I've got a paper due and continue to work on my projects. This gives me a beautiful, quiet location from which to do that work.
Mr. Theo is here with me, loving the water but not-so-much the traffic, which is already getting heavy, even though not every shop or restaurant is yet open. The cars makes him a little nervous. That's as opposed to his naturally "shy" self, but he seems to be holding his own as we walk through the crowds to walk the beach.
Yesterday, we walked out near the jetty. I headed there because I was curious about a gathering of gulls I noticed out on the water.
Alicia had told me that, sometimes, when you see the gulls gathering over the water, it can mean that there's a whale just below the surface.
Which means there's fish.
Which means that, once the whale has finished feasting, it's a free 'sushi bar' for the gulls.
As Theo and I walked closer to the jetty, other people began to join us. The word is out that the whales are in town.
You won't find that as an announcement in the newspapers or hear it on the radio. No invitations have been sent. People in this part of the world just 'know' these things, the way the crocus seem to know that it's time to breach the hard shell of the earth and make an appearance.
What I - none of us, really - didn't expect to see was the performance the whale was about to put on for us. With no warning, and from out of absolutely nowhere, the whale suddenly breached the water, his large body gracefully surfacing from the water's edge, gliding through the air, and returning to the anonymity of the deep.
He resurfaced again, briefly, to hold up a fin as if to wave to the crowd.
It all happened so unexpectedly and swiftly that it caused everyone in the small crowd to gasp. I mean, it was Friday afternoon, around 2:30. No one had made an appointment. No admission fee had been charged. No one made a financial gain. Indeed, we barely had time to snap a picture.
Watching the whales was like listening to a free reading of the Psalm appointed for tomorrow (De profundis - Psalm 130):
Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
Or the way the wind chases the billowing clouds across the sky, changing shapes that dance across a canvass of changing shades of blue, inviting the imagination into a gentle, slow dance with them.
Or the way the water changes rhythm, from a soft lap against the beach to waves that rock the boats moored along the harbor.
The whole round earth seems to be breaching into Spring, pushing through memories of a long, cold, difficult winter to glide across the surface of our lives, waving to us from the deep.
It's a bit like watching the earth's sermon on the passage from Ezekiel (appointed for tomorrow's lessons from the lectionary for Lent V).
"Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude."
Small, initially shy plants like the Hostas are making their way up through the earth, it's leaves curled tightly around itself.
After only one hour in the morning sun, however, they become bold enough to open and unfurl themselves, and begin to actually look like Hostas.
They are normally 'candy' for deer, but since there are none in this particular part of this ocean-side neighborhood, they grow with relaxed confidence. Their only real difficulty will be tourists who don't respect them and walk on them or throw cigarette butts at them, and their dogs who occasionally "water" them.
Such strange creatures! Inquisitive features. Funny ears. Long nose. Small, closely placed eyes.
Makes me think that God created the possum, like the leviathan, just for the sport of it.
Seeing that possum last night did remind me of the gospel passage appointed for Lent V - The Story of Lazarus in John 11:1-45.
Possums are known to "fake death" as a means of defense when attacked. S/he is capable of falling over on her side, mouth open in a death-like grin with saliva running out. It's a state from which s/he cannot be roused until the danger is past.
There's a wonderful little bit of Cherokee folklore about why this is so - about how the Rabbit and the Cricket tricked the Possum so that his tail has no fur and explains why it is that Possums "fake death".
It is the female Possum, however, who can "hide new life" in her pouch, keeping her babies safe for up to three months, riding in her pouch or on her back until they fall off and learn how to make it on their own.
In that way, the Possum also tells the gospel story of Lazarus who emerged from the cave at the sound of the voice of his friend, Jesus.
In saving Lazarus - raising him from the dead on the Sabbath - Jesus also committed the 'unforgivable sin' which, ironically, sealed the certainty of his own execution and death.
Death. New life. Crucifixion. Resurrection.
All of nature is breaching new life.
Bringing salutations from the deep.
Proclaiming, with St. Paul, as he once did to the ancient church in Rome, that:
"If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you". (Romans 8:11)We wait and watch for the coming of God, as the Psalmist sings, "more than watchers for the morning; more than watchers for the morning".