When the one whose life is intertwined with yours dies, the tides take you. Carry you out to sea, send you shifting into the Bay of Fundy.
This trough at the crumbling end of a mountain chain funnels first the sea to fill and fill in a 50 foot rise of water. This is your inundation. Shore leaves you – and perspective. Then even water leaves you. Tides have their own give and take; every basin, its own rhythm.
Now you are in the flow of mud, the heaviness of it, red-tinged, slows fingers and feet. After a time, you rouge your lips and breasts with the bottom of the ocean. Streak it into your hair.
You don’t call water back but it comes, following the moon. Yes, the moon is its necessity and greater than you.
Floated to a further shore and still the tide is turning. Deposits you among sculptures made from erosion of water and surrender of sandstone. They remind you of nothing human. You feel less alone.
Hopewell Rocks. Photo of a photo by John Laux.
Learn More: The Sierra Club’s Naturalists Guides introduce the ecology of a region. Reading from their The North Atlantic Coast: Cape Cod to Newfoundland (Sierra Club Books, 1981) by Michael and Deborah Berrill informed this piece.
- What are the gifts of the grief of water?
- What can observing the ocean teach me about how to be with my own grief? How can it help me to support others in grief?
- Contemplate how the water changes the land at its edges. How might you let yourself be changed by your own flow and the tides of your life? What cost might there be? What beauty might be revealed?
Contemplative Practice: Plan a pilgrimage to the water. The Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy is a most worthy place for a special pilgrimage. But you don’t have to go farm from your where you live. Joanna Powell Colbert is an ocean lover who offers you guidance for turning any journey into a pilgrimage.