Surrender has nothing to do with a white flag.
There is a place I get to every now and again. It’s not a place you just happen to go by, it’s much more of a destination. An on-purpose kind of a trip. This place has become a rather spiritual place for me, a church without walls, a place where I ask life’s deeper questions and hope to hear the answers contained within the voices of the crashing waves in front of me.
This beach is anything but pretty. Not very popular, actually. It will never be confused with the elegant beaches found nearby on Cape Cod, nor will it be placed in the same class as Horseneck Beach which sits just on the other side of Gooseberry Island. It feels more like a blue collar, working man’s kind of beach. No frills. No distractions. Just water, and some sand at low tide. If you’re lucky.
It is very humbling, this place. Just me rendered relatively insignificant compared to the vastness of the ocean. Standing on the shore, I have reached my end. I can go no further. I am at my physical limit. If I am to continue my journey I will need a vehicle outside of myself to get me where I can no longer go alone.
Hello, God? Yeah…it’s me…again…
One of the things that makes this stretch of beach so unpopular is the amount of rock and stone found here. From the street to the waterline it is nothing but rock and stone. I am always amazed by the uniqueness of the stones. No two exactly the same in size, shape, and color. Some as thin as a penny, others as smooth as a newborn’s skin. As I hold these stones in my hands, I am further astounded by how time and tide alone have worn down and shaped these pieces of solid rock. I see these stones as metaphors for all of us, each of us shaped by the time and tides of our own lives, here standing on the shore of our own physical limits seeking that which will enable us to continue our own spiritual journeys.
LETTING GO My meandering spiritual journey has taken me down many roads. The ride has had many frustrating twists and many wrong turns down dead-end streets. The spiritually-confused untrusting version of me tended to learn things the hard way, but sometimes that’s the best way to learn the lessons you really need to learn.
One of the most important things I eventually did learn was the power of surrender. Not to give up but to let go. To give my burdens and troubles to a Higher Power. To trust in my own divinity, knowing that the Universe would take care of me if I just decided to stop fighting it. If I just got out of my own way. It was a lesson hard learned, a step in a dramatically different direction when doing things my way just wasn’t getting things done.
That’s how I started throwing stones at God.
I have had many conversations with God over the years. OK, mostly it was me complaining about something, or asking for something. We’ve also had some very heated discussions born out of personal frustrations that life wasn’t going the way I thought it was supposed to go and that He was sort of to blame. I imagine God just loves to hear stuff like that!
RELEASE ME One New Year’s Eve morning I found myself here at the beach, carrying some burdens within me that I knew I wanted to expel. Stuff I just didn’t want to take into the new year. Stuff that I couldn’t seem to shake myself. A new year represented a new start, a reset button of sorts. Usually on these “walks on the rocks” I’d inevitably pick up a stone or two and throw them into the water. No particular reason, just something that happens on a stony beach. But then I decided to make things more personal. For whatever reason, I decided to write my burden on the next stone I picked up. With a Sharpie I had with me, I wrote exactly what it was I wanted to release. With that I stood on the waterline and offered a short prayer, asking God to receive this burden and release me from it’s grasp. Then, with all my might, I hurled the stone as far as I could, watching as it disappeared into the depths of the ocean.
I’m not sure when a tradition officially becomes a tradition, but I now find myself at this beach every New Year’s Eve, Sharpie in hand. There is a beautiful silence to be found on a beach on the last day of December. The solitude is a perfect setting for reflection, to look back in gratitude for what has passed, for what lies ahead, and for the very moment in which I stand in reflection. It is in these moments of solitude when I feel most at ease in surrendering that which troubles my mind and my soul.
The now-spiritually mature version of me will often make a special trip to this sacred place when I become aware of troubles and burdens that friends and other loved ones may be experiencing, asking the Universe to accept their pain that I offer to God on their behalf. My mother used to light candles; I throw stones. The intention is the same.
CLEANSED Throwing a graffiti-laced stone into the ocean may be viewed as symbolic, or even silly. But for me, it represents surrendering. Consciously deciding to entrust a Higher Power with that which holds me down and holds me back. Surrendering creates a new paradigm, a new positive and regenerative energy aligned with natural and universal laws and principles.
I envision my stone sitting on the ocean floor. I envision my writing on my stone being cleansed by the churning and agitation of the powerful ocean waves. As the stone will be cleansed, my surrendering of my burden has also cleansed me. The shadow that my burdens have cast upon me have been replaced with a light that now shines in its place. In that light I will again move forward.
Surrendering involves a great deal of trust, a trust I developed when I ran out of my own options. Trust is best served in small servings, at least initially. But those bite-sized pieces of trust gradually allowed me to get to the point where I am now able to grasp the bigger picture. I have come to fully understand my place in a very interconnected world. We are all a part of something far greater than just ourselves. I am no longer limited by my limitations, for collectively there are no limitations. Surrendering is nothing more than aligning yourself with the spirit and energy of our interconnectedness and utilizing those forces to guide our own personal growth and fulfillment.
THE SOFTEST PRAYER We have all felt how our burdens and troubles weigh us down. Their weight prevents us from fully moving forward, from fully becoming all that we were created to become. Surrender lightens the load, allows us to step forward in our lives with a greater ease, with a greater sense of hope and possibility. You need not throw a stone, although I must admit that for me there is something physically therapeutic in doing so. But even the softest prayer of surrender ripples the face of the ocean just as much as the hardest stone. It contains the same transformative energy, contains the same peaceful freedom.
What is it that you carry within you at this moment that weighs you down, that holds you back, that clouds your brightest future?
Living Half Full is about moving forward. It is deciding to liberate yourself from the burdens and troubles that restrict and restrain. Surrender isn’t a quick fix, but it’s a quick start. It puts in motion the energies of change and transformation which are the first steps moving past and moving through that which prevents us from radiating our most powerful light.
The world needs you to shine.
Can we count on you?
It’s a great day to be you!