Fire Island Diary (I)

Fire Island. I have not yet investigated the history of the name of this stretch of land off the Long Island coast. There has to be a story there. And the name of this town – Saltaire – is wonderfully evocative of a freshening breeze, a place of peace, a time in which silence can open up and offer its gifts.

So here I am this week, at the summer chapel at Saltaire, Saint Andrew’s by the Sea. Last night about 3 am there was a driving wind coming off the bay and what sounded like torrential rain. This morning the earth, underneath the raised wooden walkways, is soaked, with water filling large area in pools. Waking up with the wind, it was powerful somehow to think of the waters of the bay only a hundred yards away, if that, and in the other direction the open waters of the Atlantic a walk of ten minutes or less. Here you cannot help but feel part of the earth, surrounded as we are by the waters.

This morning with a cup of coffee I sat quietly in one of the living room chairs. The daylight was just beginning to unfurl and there was not a sound. From where I sat, without even moving my head from side to side, I could see through more than a dozen windows at once in the living room and in the front porch beyond. I thought of the power of perspective. If you sit in life in the company of Jesus Christ, you can look from there in freedom, and with him see all the diverse ways others in the world and various cultures understand the meaning of life. You can look through their lenses without fear, knowing that your settled perspective is that of looking with the eyes of Jesus. You can look with appreciation, with understanding, with compassion, with openness, and with awareness of all the possibilities God has placed before people to lead them to peace, to fullness, to God’s own self. There is security in this, a security that allows engagement with the Other, whatever their point of view, with calm and in peace.

Not unlike a Saltaire breeze on the last day of summer and first of fall.


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