I knew I was looking forward to the trip, but I didn’t realize quite how much I would love being at the beach in the winter—and not just any beach, but a beach that is overrun with human activity in the summer, and yet is almost entirely deserted of people in the winter.
The contrast was stark and impressive.
It was serene and quiet—except for the crashing surf—and simply beautiful.
I walked on the sand and in the edge of the water in my snow boots.
I breathed in the salty air and welcomed it in my body.
I watched the sun rise from our 10th story beachfront balcony.
One day the entire landscape was blanketed in fog, and I imagined something magical emerging from the mist.
I had planned to be in San Diego, California, last week, but decided in January that the prudent choice would be not to fly across the country at this time. Instead, a colleague friend and I rented an affordable hotel suite in Ocean City, Maryland, and engaged in the Institute for the Learning Ministry from the east coast instead of the west.
So, in addition to the wonders of the wintry beach, I enjoyed meandering conversation with my friend; we played Cribbage and Codenames Duet and Spelling Bee; we shared quiet space while reading novels; we ate meals without needing to account for picky children’s appetites; and we worshipped with our professional colleagues and learned together in seminars. (I was enrolled in “Sustainable Leadership in Emergent Systems.”)
Just as I learned anew about the beauty and magic of the beach in winter, I refreshed and sharpened my knowledge about systems theory, and I was reminded of the value of intentional restorative time away from the routine demands of daily life.
For those four days I welcomed only those things that were nourishing—conversations, meals, activities—and otherwise set aside anything that wasn’t truly necessary, just for a short time.
As we look ahead to the spring and the coming year at UUCC—a time that we cautiously hope won’t be dominated by pandemic constraints—we will be considering more deliberately how to cultivate that much-needed and intentional restorative time for us as an institution. How might we together welcome only those things that are truly nourishing for our congregational body?
Meanwhile, I hope you also are able to choose some nourishing and restorative things for you—whatever it is that your own body and spirit hunger for at this time.
I love you,