Wednesday, August 18, 2010

100 Steps Beach: Offering Hope at the Altar

Two heart-shaped rocks left by Heart Space
At the top step, at One Hundred Steps beach, I wondered if my sore legs would carry me all the way down to the seashore and back again.  There may be only one hundred steps but they are steep ones and my knees can play tricks on me.

It is hard to commit to a hike, with rheumatoid arthritis, because I can't predict when or where the flare-ups will appear.  Still, this is my own beach, the one I claim as entirely special.  You never know when you will see a seal, an eagle, or a pelican, which definitely trumps any fear of a little pain.

I decided to make the offering of my strength, such as it is, to the hike.  I could take it slowly, and if any especially speedy types approached me on the trail, move over and let them pass me.  So I made my plodding way with care.

At every turn I appreciated these stairs, the rails constructed of found objects and driftwood, how they offer quirky diversion. Soon, I'd forgotten the swellings and aches that accompanied me, and was able to keep up with my companion.  He made the sacrifice of going slowly, so that I could feel hardy enough, and in the end, probably reaped the benefits of the smaller details.  You just can't see them when you're whizzing past slow people on the trail.

The stairs themselves, constructed lovingly by someone who has made the remote beach accessible to most all who can walk, are a sacrifice, are an offering of compassion. Only the best of climbers could have accessed the beach before there were steps.  And those who climbed must have made a mess of the flora and fauna. Such places give me hope for humanity - both because they were made by good souls, and are respected by humble enjoyers of them.

Some sights, even the speedy can't pass without noticing. The little shelter two-thirds of the way down the trail, appears to be a sort of shrine, or has been made into one by passersby.  It is here, with gratitude for the sunshine, the sea, a pile of tiny agates in my pocket, that I left my one heart-shaped rock, and my love left his, too.  (You can see in the photo, there is a kind of makeshift altar, and an interesting drawing, almost a petroglyph, nailed by someone above the shelf where we put our stones.)

Never do we know, when we begin an undertaking if we will see the end of it.  We must obey our hearts and set out into the unknown with hope.  Hope can be as complicated as one hundred steps down and one hundred up again, or as simple as one step forward into the unknown.  It is hope that carries us to the best places, sites that we can share with loved ones, and all of humanity.