Mike Beck
Navarre Beach, FL

Story Info

For the Gulf of Mexico image

Story & Experience

Our beaches are being swarmed almost daily since the end of the first week of the sinking of the Deep Water Horizon with gatherings of people or all stripes: protests, prayer groups, volunteers, rallies for state and national action, save the dolphins, etc. I think we have been the only group that came with a single simple clear intention: deep appreciation, gratitude and humility for the Earth and what was in each other’s hearts, knowing that would produce an adequate product on this day. But because we consciously chose the dawning of a new day, that hour and being just one of another many voices calling people to gather, the participation was limited. Oddly, I feel there was more heart in our small group than had we somehow been able to be seen above the myriad of internet, Facebook, etc. calls to gather at the water and had drawn multitudes.

One good antidote to illustrate was the obvious approachability of the group, which was done by a middle age couple while we were finishing drumming and getting ready to find flotsam and jetsam for our act of beauty. It was the man who spoke, asking, “Does your band practice early mornings at the beach often?” Cynthia, who was standing wiping sand off here legs, just looked at him smiling and said enthusiastically,” Oh no, we’re not a band! We just came to be with a sick friend.” Then there was a momentary pause, a silence with only the gently cresting waves falling on the shore before he said in a kindly voice, “Thank you for doing this.” They then walked away a distance, stopped and watched us create “a little red wing bird” out of seaweed.

There are pockets of algae turning stagnant pools cooper and green. I stumble upon a raised dirt road stretching down the length of this white floor bottom.

Beauty. Look for beauty. Of course somehow everywhere. And then I begin to feel sick and nauseous. I sit down in the dust. What’s this? Under it is anger … not so much at “the wound”, but at the feeble, chaotic efforts to “heal it”. Pipes sticking through raised banks in vain attempts to spread the little bits of controlled water. Hedges of dense salt grass. Lines of sprinklers scattered across the distance.

I’m angry for the pretending and false promises that this takes the wound away. I hear myself inside saying … nothing can “pretty up” the wound. First we must acknowledge that this wound is real. No more lies, no more false promises of “fixing” it … and I am constantly connecting this with what we do with each other and our own personal wounding stories.

I’m sitting now on a cement block where the water is regulated, looking down on one of the small pools being spilled a bit of high sierra water from the mountains. A chant of sound begins to spill from my mouth, a rhythm that is new to me. I sit softly following its voice, and finally feel like I’m here, just sitting and witnessing, giving company, being in the truth of this wound. For the first time I feel like I’m really seeing what’s here, with curiosity. I walk to the puddle of water and want to put my hands in and see what’s in the dark clay soil just under the surface. Thousands of lava, wiggling, rising up. I see dead or shed exoskeletons that pile above the waterline. I see the little miracles of beauty clinging to what remnants there are of possibilities. I build a very small stone pile of pebbles, and bend a very old piece of wire into the Radical Joy bird to leave by its side.

I look up, and down the road a DWP truck is coming slowly, stopping to make adjustments at the water regulators. I stand, and the sprinklers stop. I walk slowly back to the road. I recognize my tension around the DWP driver. Is he the “enemy”? I feel my resistance to him as he drives closer, then passes me with a blank face. I let in this feeling of “us and them”. The truck turns to return up the road, and I wonder what I’ll do. I suddenly break into a smile, and wave. His face transforms into a very big smile, and a very big wave. We share this wound and this wounded area.

I think how very loud a wounded area speaks. I wonder why I have avoided walking here before.

Navarre Beach, FL

Image Credit:

  • For the Gulf of Mexico: Mike Beck


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.