I awoke this morning to the sounds of seagulls outside. It took me a minute to remember I was not in my own bed, but snuggled into a warm bed in a seaside Air B&B. The day before, hubby John blessedly was able to “capture” a Covid vaccine. I could not, but managed to find an appointment for Saturday.
After John got his shot, and Krystal (the friend and angel who agreed to house sit for us) swept in and grabbed up Carter for a morning run with her pup, we headed for Seaside on the coast. It was a long drive through alternating rain, hail, and snow.
We got here close to the end of the day, and listened to the storm pelt the A-Frame we’d rented. The beach was a three-block walk down the street, but that would have to wait til morning. We moved in our few belongings and sat near the flames of the propane heating stove. I found some books. We turned the lights low, and just sat there in the soft light.
I had not been anywhere in a long time where all I had to do was nothing. It was a relief that was simply indescribable. No chores, no responsibilities, no need to list out all my night chores so I would not forget them. Just sit under a reading light with a cup of warm gatorade.
The weather told us our whole trip would be a deluge and perhaps I was stupid to set this up in the middle of winter, but something just pushed me to make the trip, no matter what it took, even though I was afraid that if it took too much out of me, I could set my healing back.
Come morning, my room was flooded with unexpected sunlight. When I began my breathing practice, I focus my mind on my breath, and on my meditation. At the end of the process, I got a “message.” They are coming frequently now. In my minds eye, appeared a large elk. He said to me, “Remember you are a Sundancer. You ARE A SUNDANCER.”
It didn’t take me an instant to understand the meaning. I have been talking to myself about taking myself into the Pacific for weeks and weeks now. I brought along my bathing suit just in case, but didn’t know for certain until Elk spoke to me that I would be called to do this today.
We headed to town to try to find some breakfast, but this is Oregon so there is NO indoor dining. We grabbed some food and ate it in our car. On the way back to our little cabin, right on a big plot of grass by the side of the road, we turned the corner to find an entire herd of elk grazing. They were enormous, like railroad cars on ballet slippers. Providence.
The morning was crisp, windless and brilliant with sunshine spilling over every living and glistening thing. John helped me gather some towels and a blanket, and we drove down to where the dunes begin. Then, we walked. As I headed for the water, I hummed Sundance healing songs. At the beach, the waves tumbled in so frothy they looked like snow caps.
We found a nice hunk of driftwood where we could “organize.” Basically, I handed John my phone to take a few photos, and stripped down to my bathing suit. There were about three or four couples on the beach with their dogs, looking my way curiously. I turned and began walking to the water, just praying gratitude the whole way: thank you for my husband’s good fortune for a vaccine, thank you for this sunshine. Thank you for the healing. Thank you for watching over us all, Mother to us All.
I began running to the sea. I have not been able to run for several years. I try, but I move like someone whose been hit with a taser. But this morning, I ran, my feet hardly feeling the sand until I came close to the waves and knelt down to kiss the ocean. “Welcome me, please. Make me strong.”
And in I went, no shuddering, no gasp of cold, just the salt water saying, “Come child. Come, Sundancer. I lay down in the water because the sea was too strong to allow me to go deep, but I floated there, in and out with the small waves for a few minutes, the water all around me feeling neutral and kind.
When I raced out to the shore, several people stopped me to ask if I was doing a “New Year’s Polar Bear Plunge. I explained that it was something much deeper than that. I stood there in the 40-degree weather, dripping ocean water and said. “I’ve trained my mind for this. I’m not even cold.” All of them thanked me for sharing something they had never seen.
We walked across the dunes with me in my bathing suit, a jacket, and bare feet. I was beaming. The path ahead of me was flickering with magenta light on the sea grasses and stones. I knew this was a result of the deep cold stimulating my vascular system, and the utter exhilaration coursing through my veins.
I know now with utter certainly that small changes over time can transform us. Wading into the Pacific mostly naked in winter is NOTHING I could have even imagined a year ago–not the possibility of it, nor the trust that the cold was healing me. I stepped into the sea a Sundancer. I stepped out–at least for a few hours!–a warrior.
Finally, I took a few more steps into the hot shower of our little vacation abode. It felt great, but nothing like the ocean!