“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”—William Wordsworth

Blue Skies, White Clouds

Yesterday was a scorcher by Maine standards. Temperatures in the upper 80’s sent those of us without central air-conditioning scurrying to the beach. My two boys and I were among the earliest to arrive. Traveling down a winding, narrow road to reach a far-away, sprawling spot on the ocean with tumbling waves and a desert like quality, felt like an adventure. Once we arrived we were like camels making our way from the parking lot to a distant tide pool a football field’s length from the entrance. Even from our tide pool we were still another long stretch away from the rolling waves. It was worth the journey. My boys—Jonah with his wide rimmed, navy blue sun hat, Adrian with his ripe orange baseball cap—took their buckets, shovels and wave board into the shallow pool and were busy at play within moments. Adrian piled sand ice cream into his bucket while Jonah pulled the buckets around on top of the board. I set out our blanket and then lying back on the small bag I had packed, took in the rocky cliffs in the distance thinking about the turn of events that brought me there alone with my two boys instead of where we had planned to be—back in the place where I grew up, surrounded by family, cuddling my little niece and nephew who I missed like a drought misses rain and hadn’t seen since winter winds were blowing snowdrifts at Christmastime.

I was sitting in the parking lot of a very large adventure travel store when I received the call. My husband had run into the store to pick up a last item for our travels. The following day he was heading West for eight days for work and I was heading to a family summer home to be with my sisters, their children and my parents. I was looking forward to the companionship. I was looking forward to the comfort of “home.” I was looking forward to the fun of all of our children being together. A few days before, my son Jonah had come down with a virus that gave him two painful sores in the back of his mouth and a low-grade fever. He was feeling well enough to travel though and my sisters had agreed that exposing their children was not ideal but that we should come anyway and just be mindful of washing hands, of separating sippy cups. I had not thought about my Mom, though. I had not thought of the terrible illness she had battled this past winter and how exposing her to something now—even something minor in the world of childhood illnesses—would not have been wise. With an immune system compromised, she could be a magnet for such a virus. She told me as much when she called. She didn’t want to say those words—she wanted to say anything but those words—but she had to and in the blink of an eye we were staying home for the next eight days without any activities planned and quarantined from our friends because of the illness. My husband would be 3,000 miles away. I sat stunned in the car wondering how I would break the news to Jonah who was deep in sleep in his carseat now.

I spent the afternoon and early evening mourning the loss of precious time with those I love so much—time that we have so little of. I felt angry, too. I wanted to blame someone but there was no one to blame. I cried and thought about how hard it would be to shift gears and refocus. I told my sisters and Mom that I was looking for the silver-lining but I couldn’t find it. By nightfall, though, I knew that I had a decision to make. I knew that I could easily spend the next week regretting every moment not spent with family, or I could lift up these precious days and discover their purpose. My greatest concern was with how I would remain present and responsive—not reactive—to the mercurial nature of my children for—what to me felt like—a long stretch of time. I bow down to the wives of deployed servicemen for whom this is their nearly constant state.

At the beach, we were a few days into our time alone together and we were finding our rhythm. With our self-imposed quarantine and everyone feeling better now we were completely free to roam and go and play as we wished. We eventually left our tide pool and made our way down to the crashing shoreline. Jonah timidly dipped his toes in and observed his board bouncing around in the waves. I sat with Adrian and followed my breath noticing the way my stomach, my chest rose and fell with the waves. We meandered down little paths of water that flowed along the sand into bigger and bigger tide pools. We found ourselves finally in one pool deep enough to soak our bodies in and for Jonah to float on his wave board. I should have been tired—Adrian had made a before dawn wake-up call that morning—but instead I felt invigorated. I was pulling Jonah on his wave board from one end of the pool to the other and suddenly I began running with him in tow, splashing a good amount of water up onto my legs and some even onto my face. Adrian was in a very shallow part of the pool, lying on his stomach, propped up on his forearms. His face was filled with a grin. Soon I discovered that if I ran with Jonah for a long stretch and then suddenly let go of the string that was pulling him he would go sailing ahead of me with delight, riding on his board up onto the sand like a surfer with so much momentum. I was doing this for him over and over and at one point I was running and I could feel the water splashing my face and I could hear the pure joy in Jonah’s laughter and I could see Adrian luxuriating in the water and I let Jonah go and then I just stopped and I looked up into the sky. I stopped and I looked into the sky.

It was so vast.

It was so vast.

I could feel my heart beating from running and I could feel my heart expand.

It was so vast and beautiful and miraculous  it took my breath away.

I felt alive.

I felt so very alive and I knew in that moment what it meant to live.

I knew the ecstasy that is complete oneness with life.

11 thoughts on ““Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.”—William Wordsworth

  1. Lisa A. McCrohan

    ABSOLUTELY beautiful. Absolutely. I am deeply moved by your words, your experience, and you sharing this experience. There are hardly words. I resonate with the deep pangs of missing “home” (the actual, physical structure of “home” as the house you grew up in and “home” in the sense of being with dear ones who just love you and your children). I resonate with the anxiety of “being in charge” of and caring for the kiddos alone while your husband is gone — AND being around others (even dear ones). I resonate with listening to the divine whispers within you and making a decision. I resonate with the sudden moments of deep connection to everything, feeling complete and whole. Beautiful, friend. Beautiful.
    Lisa A. McCrohan

    1. meghannathanson Post author

      Dear Lisa ….. I am sorry for the delay in responding to your wonderful words ….. I am also very moved by your writing and feel very much in alignment with you! Perhaps our paths will cross at some point …. I wouldn’t be surprised! Know that I am following your journey as well. Lots of love, Meghan

      1. Lisa A. McCrohan

        Dear Meghan, dear love. I so know how it is responding to posts/comments. Some times I miss things – on Facebook, email, and my blog. And that’s ok! I give myself permission to be very human! I have noticed that others give me that permission, too! Thank you for your kind words. I have found that i listen to the deep whispers within me and go with the timing that agrees with my heart and my dear ones. Yes, our paths may continue to cross. Many blessings to you, Lisa

  2. Miriam

    I’ve been there, in those moments you’re writing about. I think it is hardest when children are small, and we are so desperate for the company of others. I know that feeling of disappointment when you’re looking forward to something, when you need something, and a child is sick and you have to stay home instead. But I love the way you dealt with it- very beautiful. This is a season in your life, and it won’t last forever. My husband travels a lot for work since he changed jobs and we moved far away; and it’s still hard because I don’t have close friends or family here, but my kids are old enough that I don’t really need him around the way I did when they were young.

    1. meghannathanson Post author

      Dear Miriam …. thank you so much for writing and relating with me about this season in my life. It really is such a precious time and I can see how quickly it is passing already. All my very best to you, Meghan

  3. gena

    i felt your joy –this was a great example to teach your children —“best laid plans etc”
    i hope your 8 days is filled with these moments

    1. meghannathanson Post author

      Gena – Thank you for letting me know that this feeling of joy came through! I am on my last day before my husband arrives home and I can truly say that my boys and I had a wonderful time together this week. I created a sort of vacation for us and I know that God/The Universe was at work in evolving me in this process. Thank you for your support. All my very best to you and yours, Meghan

  4. mummalove

    I love the way you write. I imagine that phone call would have been very hard for your mum to make, as it was for you to hear. It’s so disappointing when the things we have our hearts set on fall through, but I love that you were able to open your heart to joyful possibilities x

    1. meghannathanson Post author

      Dear Mumma Love, You are so right, that call was not easy for my Mom but she passed on a story about how this happened to her when she was a young Mom with two little ones and that her Mom had said to her to just, “take it in her stride.” I loved hearing that story and could hear my Grandma’s voice in it. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and for your words. It heartens me to know that my words are touching others. Lots of love, Meghan

  5. Pingback: “I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” —Henry David Thoreau | Mindful Mothering

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