Tag Archives: Catholic

This is the Part Where My Mystic and the Ocean Meet

Beach

I don’t have much time left, and the awareness of it makes me wistful for more. I take another look out the window to my right, and snuggle myself into the side of the leather couch. Legs curled, book still resting on my folded knees, I close my eyes.

I may be resting, but I’m not alone; there’s a couple behind me. They are reading together, enjoying the unspoken welcome of this room with gorgeous ocean views.  Every few minutes the woman sighs, you know the way you do when you read something so beautiful or haunting that the fullness of it escapes your body. My lips form a slight smile as she turns to her lover and friend, and says, “Listen to this paragraph,” and whispers it ever so softly so as not to disturb me.

Eyes still closed, I pull the community blanket around me and wonder about the other writers who have been wrapped up in it. The dying fire in the corner crackles and my thoughts follow suit: feminism, Jesus, my son’s laughter, books, waves crashing on sand, my husband’s voice, and my disheveled manuscript of a book.

Quiet, I encourage myself.

One more glorious nap in which I am not woken up by anything but my own body telling me it is time. Oh, how this weekend getaway has been good for my soul, my body, and my mind. And soon, I do mellow, and my thoughts turn to soft embers allowing me to rest and sleep.

I wake up to the sound of wind beating against the windows of the old hotel, the sky has turned gray, and I am covered in peace. My mind wanders to something said several times during a Catholic Mass, and as I consider it, I prop myself up against a pillow and look out at the ocean.

The priest extends his hands to the people and says, “Peace be with you.”

In return, the people respond with, “And with your Spirit.”

For several months, maybe even the better part of a year, I didn’t pay much mind to the depth of the exchange; as a new Catholic there was so much I was soaking in. However, the longer I’ve been part of the Church, the more time I’ve spent studying and contemplating this exchange.

When the people respond to the priest, what we’re really saying is, “May the special graces of the Holy Spirit be with you, enabling you to facilitate Christ to the people.”

As St. John Chrysostom said about what happens at the altar, “…the minister does nothing, and the right offering of the gifts is not a work of human nature, but the mystic sacrifice is brought about by the grace of the Holy Spirit and his hovering over all.”

The hovering of the Spirit above and in and below the ocean landscape is what brought me a nearly inexplicable amount of peace during my weekend beach stay.

The waves lapped against the shore and it was a gift of the Spirit, “Peace be with you, Natalie.”

And my wonder, my acknowledgement of the beauty of creation was my response, “And with your spirit, my sweet God.”

The Spirit is as present in nature as in the Eucharist; different, yes, but steals your breath just the same.

I let my full weight sink into the leather couch for another moment, and relish every hour I’d spent in this hotel for book lovers, every contemplative minute I’d spent staring at the ocean, and I rose in peace, with a renewed desire to walk in Peace.

{Is there any particular part of nature that draws you into the presence of the Holy? Thanks for reading, friends.}