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Friday
Sep172010

« Keep Calm & Sail On »

Up the Hudson River there's an enchanting town by the name of Saugerties—where the people are gentle, the environment is glorified, and there's a respect for history that permeates life like a tide-soaked marsh. I met this peaceful way of being during my stay at the Saugerties Lighthouse, under the care of its thoughtful keeper Patrick Landewe, a true advocate who radiates a passion for preservation. And what a beautiful project to preserve! The lighthouse is a sturdy and timeless American landmark, built in 1869 to keep ships from nearing the shallow wetlands at the mouth of the Esopus Creek. Star-speckled skies showing off the brightness of Jupiter's path, a napping bald eagle, the silent swoosh of eelgrass against my kayak, and the sweetest mascot—a well mannered dog named Stanlee. I saw an opportunity in this peace to meditate on sensitivity…sensitivity to the sounds of natural life, the scent of a clear river breeze, and the warmth of early autumn sunlight on my cheeks. Simple noticing. It reminded me of the honor in observation that Mary Oliver writes about so well. The challenge that surfaces is to recall this same peace within a busy city day. It's much easier to find serenity in environment rather than in circumstance. But it's also ours to invoke throughout a hectic work day, on a noisy street corner, and in the throws of a jolting subway ride. There's a late `70s comic strip from the Philippines called Mang Kepweng which puts a profound little twist on summoning calm in a storm: "As we sail through life, don't avoid the rough waters. Sail on because calm waters won't make a skillful sailor." So let's work on our sailing skills this week, shall we?

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