Yesterday I almost walked directly into a sea lion that was laying on the beach. I’m not sure if it was sick or just tired, but as we approached it didn’t move. Walking with my boyfriend, we were distracted enough to not notice it until someone called out to us. Even then I looked around confused. “Sea lion! Where?!” I was excitedly peering at the ocean, trying to glimpse it, but instead of being distant, it was just 5-10 feet directly in our path.
My boyfriend had to go up to Crescent City for work and I needed some rest from the mundane world so I took a couple days off and tagged along. Someone told him there was agate all over Pebble Beach, so as we were walking on the coast yesterday my eyes were hunting for agate. I wasn’t 100% sure what it would look like or how big it would be, so I was really just looking for any shiny pretty rock. The sea lion gave me pause.
I went to the beach and immediately started searching for what I could take, paying little attention to all of the majesty that surrounded me. Yes, I briefly reveled in the sound of waves and ocean breeze, but then I was off, hunting for the pretty shiny things. How often do I do this at home, at work, everyday? What am I missing, that’s right in front of my eyes, while I’m lost looking for something I’ve only ever heard about?
When I finally saw the sea lion, my first thought was ‘take a picture’ but the woman who alerted us went on to say, “I think it’s sick, I called the SPCA, and they said they were aware of it, it’s probably just resting or trying to escape danger, but I came back and it’s still here, so I think it might be sick.” Suddenly a picture didn’t feel right.
I looked up the beach a little “Is that another one?” I asked her.
“That one’s dead, it’s head is gone.”
There it was. Something settled within in me. A sadness. Our oceans are sick. I had come to take, but what did I give? As the woman walked away I stared at the live sea lion, barely moving, just blinking softly.
“I hope it’s okay,” I said to my boyfriend. “I’m going to say a prayer.”
I knelt down on the beach and prayed for healing for both the sea lion and our oceans. I bowed my head in honor and gave thanks to the sea lions.
As we walked away something in me itched. I still had a few stones in my purse that I’d collected. I took the prettiest one out, said one more prayer, gave it a kiss, and put it back in the sand. It’s time to receive rather than take. It’s time to give back.
Often it takes death to get our attention. A truth that feels both sad and sacred. This is the way the world works. This is what it takes to wake up.
Balancing the inner and outer is a process. I’m within it. I am listening. Re-centering.