Waves of Life's Heartbeat; Published in LAKESTYLE magazine, Fall 2004 Issue

It was well known German writer Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, in his later years, who penned the phrase “Nature is the living, visible garment of God.” This is never more evident than in the splendor of the autumn season. Much like the daily lull of Life quieting itself at twilight for its evening rest, autumn changes its grand arboreal garment and brings with it its own gentle process of “quieting” before its winter lull. The forest canopy transforms itself into golden shades of red, yellow and orange, myriads of winged wildlife prepare for their journey to warmer climates and Nature readies itself for its long winter nap... all to the quieting waves of Life’s heartbeat.

As part of an annual autumn tradition, I enjoy taking the time to slowly and intentionally walk as much of the shoreline of our little Ottertail County lake, as an opportunity to reflect on the past glorious Minnesota summer months before autumn turns the corner toward winter. And when that shoreline just isn’t long enough, in the early morning hours I venture to nearby lakes as well; just me, my thoughts, soft sand and the rolling waves gracefully lapping over the shore. It’s a rare moment of solitude and solace; a chance to reflect on past months, mistakes and milestones. It is an opportunity to experience my own “quieting” of spirit and one to which I encourage others.

This autumn I came to the Minnesota lake country with a lot on my mind - particularly concerning recent events and circumstances in my life – so it took more than one shoreline to quiet this wanderer’s spirit. As I stopped for a moment in the early morning light and looked out over the waters, I observed something I hadn't given prior or proper attention. Lap…… lap…... lap…... I’ve experienced it continuously each weekend while at the lake, but on this day it seemed especially meaningful. Lap…… lap…... lap…... Before a single lake wave had a chance to crash on the shore and retreat, another wave was already overlapping it and crashing to the shore, and another, and another... The water advanced, retreated, and advanced in a never-ending musical round of what I fondly refer to now as the waves of Life’s heartbeat.

In Nature, I believe that life is not linear, but cyclical. It revolves around the seasons, ignited by the celestial journey of our earth around the Sun. It teems with excitement throughout the phases of the moon and repeats its pattern on a monthly basis. And when it reaches its maturity, it becomes food for new life springing forth in this cyclical heartbeat of Life. It is most likely true that there is very little within our life that is completely linear as well; our life journey doesn’t seem to unfold in only one direction and in orderly incremental stages. Over the years, I've often thought of my life as a series of storyboards in a comic book; each event neatly framed and following another. It is most recently on my journey as an older adult, spouse and parent, I have come to believe that rather than a storyboarded existence, our life is more similar to the never-ending round of advancing-retreating-advancing waves of events and journeys within our life. We, by our very nature [notably, over 60% of our body is made up of water and the chemical composition of our blood is similar to that of sea water], are a life form teeming with ebbs and tides. Our life itself is melded together by series of high points, low points, turbulence, joy, peace and silence – Life’s symphony of overlapping waves of journey and discovery, leaving its mark on and defining the shores of our personal life. Lap…… lap…... lap…...

Take a moment this autumn to walk with me down this short stretch of shoreline and allow me to ask you: What major events, milestones, memories, and mistakes have occurred to you since the beginning of summer? It would be my guess that they happened concurrently; either simultaneously or one after another in a seamless fashion. Advancing-retreating-advancing waves of Life’s journey. Some of the events, milestones and memories of the past months were most likely painful and some were most likely joyous; many of which are just a memory, like a sand castle washed away by the steady tide. Regardless, the events, and milestones and memories have now become part of the rich rhythm of Life’s heartbeat – a testimony that you are truly alive.

It's very difficult in this life to have complete "closure" - perhaps, because this Life has little room for closure. Life goes on in with its never-ending waves of journey and discovery. And much like the shoreline that continues to be transformed by its constant contact with the water, our life remains ever-changing by our contact with Life itself. Though we may never find all of our answers and solutions for issues that face us yesterday or today, perhaps the closure we each personally seek can simply be found in that momentary lull between overlapping waves of events and situations in our life. That momentary lull that allows us to silence ourselves, respect and appreciate the very moment, learn from and make amends for the past if need be, forgive, remember fondly and move on – all before the next wave laps up on our personal shoreline of Life.

And perhaps it is true that the most important life contribution we will leave behind in the autumn of our life is simply a profound impact on others. Life is a grand symphonic heartbeat of overlapping waves of journey and discovery – marking time while leaving its mark on the shore of our personal life. And if we allow ourselves to be adventurous, we will find ourselves caught up in this glorious journey and discovery. We become one single note in the grand symphonic heartbeat; the advancing-retreating-advancing wave of our life journey gently lapping on the shores of others’ life… followed by the life journeys of another… and another…

Enjoy your walk along the shoreline this autumn while listening intently to the heartbeat of your life.

hoedl's haven
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