Friday, September 3, 2010

written in Maine

These are my thoughts from Maine, written August 25, 2010:

I am in Maine, sitting on the stone fence of an ocean front cottage. My feet are crossed such that I can support the computer on my lap—my right foot therefore jutting into a pointed fir tree. The bark scrapes my big toe and I am reminded that I am new here. A visitor. I have never seen what I am seeing now—felt what I am feeling. The trees here are taller and thinner. They point instead of billow. I am like an infant, my senses trying to comprehend all the newness I am taking in. Like the smell of pine mixing with sea salt. It brings to my mind the best parts of winter—a Christmas tree—but also of Summer—the salty gusts of the Outer Banks. It is, at first, confusing. But my imagination is malleable here and happy to oblige such intermingling of my memory. Or the sound of waves crashing against rock instead of the sand I am used to.  I am a southerner—foreign to these parts. But I am also welcomed. And happy. And peaceful. And inspired.

The coast is perhaps a few hundred feet from our cottage. I have left the windows open each night, and wake up throughout the night to a cozy chill that settles on me every few hours. I pull the quilt up to my chin and roll closer to Nathaniel. He feels my cold feet and jumps a little. I wake up to the sound of the ocean and the far-off ring of a bell-buoy warning ships of the rocks ahead.

We have been eating fresh seafood—picking up live lobster from a local co-op  and boiling them at home. We take our time, making gin-and-tonics with big, juicy limes. We boil fresh corn and crack rainbow peppercorns all over it.  We make big salads with flavorful lettuce (who knew lettuce could taste sweet and delicious?!) and we crumble Maine-made feta cheese all over the top of it. We boil the lobsters for exactly 15 minutes, when their shells are a bright, pretty red. We bring everything to the table and dig into the tender meat. The lobsters are soft-shell—we can crack open even the thickest parts of the shell with our fingers. I don’t even need to dip mine in the butter. I feel local and happy.

Still, I am a visitor here. A wide-eyed, curious visitor. I have been thinking that I would be glad to live here everyday of my life. I could have the time and space and wherewithal to write. I could eat fresh seafood and local produce—take my time cooking my meals. I could live simply and have the time to drink every drop of the days. I would keep clean, white sheets on all the beds and leave the windows open each night. I would watch the dog splash around in the tide pools and chase all of the monarchs. My days would be long. I would fill journals and make up recipes and write real letters and postcards. I would wear lots of linen and leave my hair curly every day.

But I know myself—how distracted and discontent I can become, even when I have everything I need. I would probably grow ungrateful for how beautiful the sea is—how it laps up against the tiny world I’m living in now. I would probably get bored--forget that time is a gift.  I would probably even grow tired of the food (It pains me even to say that). I would forget how beautiful this life is and want something.

The quiet splendor of Maine makes me think.  What are the “Maines” in my life that I’m not utilizing? God gives us good gifts. Am I using them?
He gives me friends who listen. Do I call them enough?
He gives me a family who is close by. Do I visit them enough?
He gives me community at Portico. Do I pour into them enough?

I think that God is grieved when I don’t use the Maines that he has given me. I also think that (maybe it’s a Westerny-Christiany thing?) I feel guilty for resting. Is this right? Am I spending too much time doing and not enough time being?

Challenge me, bloggies. What do you do on a daily basis to rest? To spend time with God? To spend time with your community? I rest with your spouse or your family?

What to you do in order to just BE?


  1. i love you. I sit on my porch and just breathe. I smile at the trees. I watch a bird. Whenever the wind blows, I try to take in as much of the air as possible feeling the breathe of God. I go in my closet and turn off the light and sit in the dark and smile. I am present when I cook. I chop each thing so carefully. I want to go go Maine.

  2. Beautiful distillation of your time.
    You pose questions I am struggling with.
    Did I value my summer trip so highly because it was an escape from reality, or did it give me a hint of a new reality that I could, if bold enough, reach out and grasp with open hands?
    Would I grow discontent even if I moved to my "paradise," or could it be that I am not yet in the spacious place God has prepared for me, and He gave me glimpses of it so I could move forward with confidence into a new land?
    I don't know what my Maines are here.
    I know what they were this summer, but here...I can't find any right now. This is the icky "transition" space that I so hate.

  3. Best blog yet. for sure. for me, Sunday. always Sunday. Church with Daniel then no matter what, rest. together. no matter how much we have to do. just the two of us. then a small group we attend.. and soon starting our own. it's our day of offering to each other, and more importantly the Lord. a day to just listen.

  4. I think I am your Maine, and you are not investing enough in me. There. I said it! Ha!:) So glad you indulged. Sad that you brought reality into it, but grateful that you are indeed wise. I'm not afraid for you. Anyone who writes a post like that will no doubt find the time and rest they need. He likes you, sweet sister. :)

  5. Thank you, Brett. This is a wonderful reflection on Maine, and an intense invitation to experience God.