Wandering the foggy shore of southern California the morning after the tsunami hit Japan

Fog, rocks, ocean

 Across the wide and salty ocean from California, past lush tropical islands and craggy rocks, past whales surfacing to blow water toward the sky, past dolphin pods arching and leaping, past underwater schools of colorful fish, past reefs of coral, the people on the island of Japan laughed and ate and tucked their children into bed on Thursday night.

They washed their dishes and perhaps watched the sun set across their island in that haze of innocence which gathers around all of us when we don’t know what the next morning shall bring.  When our lives are still simple and golden, and we perhaps haven’t appreciated and acknowledged the beauty of simple sharing, simple laughter, the simple way our families and friends and neighbors weave the fabric of living joy.

No swimming. Not because of tsunami. Because it's a rip tide area.

Hold on to your memories of innocent pleasures, for after you’ve eaten lunch and perhaps noticed the bird swoop outside your window– the earth shook in its core, and shook, and shook, and shook some more.  With a magnitude of 8.9 it heaved up solid rock and swallowed trees and buildings and animals and gardens.  The earth rose from its underworld sleeping lava dreams and desolated coffee shops, schools, plans, ideas, hearts and windows.

Deep underwater Triton raised his spear as the earth tilted and heaved, and sea water rose and gathered and rushed toward the earthquake’s trembling voice.  And then the wave roared ashore, the tsunami-wave, the wave of death.  It crashed, it sucked, it heaved, it spit out bridges and cars and trucks.  It sped toward the heart of the island, but only lapped at the vulnerable shores as it attempted to drown everything in its foaming mouth.

Birds on the foggy shore


We on distant shores, across the wide ocean, still build our sand castles and smile for cameras and wander along foggy beaches.  We try to imagine children ripped from the arms of loving mothers.  We try to imagine grandmothers swept to sea.  We try to imagine strong fathers attempting to keep us safe.  We see ourselves clinging to trees, to buildings, to floating debris.

People still strolled the foggy beach. Someone built a sandcastle.


We looked across the ocean and thought about the tsunami and the people of Japan.

We weep salty tears for the way life can change in an instant.  The way our loved ones can be standing beside us, laughing, and suddenly gone.  Gone, gone, gone.  Out to sea, into the earth, away from us.






We pray for the people of Japan.  We pray for people who are just like us.  People who had plans on Friday.  People who thought it would be another ordinary day.  A work day, a school day, a shopping day, a family day.

An ordinary wave...

If we learn anything from the heart-wrenching pain of disasters it should be this:  hold your children tighter tonight as you hug them.  Keep your eyes alert for beauty as it presents itself during this most ordinary day.  Train your heart to remain soft, open, present with whatever simple gifts arise.  Life is short and precious, and there is a human tendency to forget this, to walk against this earth half-asleep, half-dreaming, half-forgetting.  Worrying and fretting about small things, inconsequential things, distractions which prevent us from enjoying that which nourishes us, sustains us, sets us free.

Our work as humans is not to labor only for cash, the legal tender.  It is to stay aware, awake, present with that which is so easy to dismiss.  The bliss which already surrounds us in the sound of seagulls calling, waves lapping against the shore, children playing, sand castles of life which we build, laughing, laughing, rarely realizing when the next wave will claim and lay asunder.

Heaven exists here, now, in eyes which allow the sacred its shining, its fog, its mist, its ever-broken fullness.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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32 Responses to Wandering the foggy shore of southern California the morning after the tsunami hit Japan

  1. Susan Derozier says:

    Amen. Stunning.

  2. OM says:

    Amen, stunning, beautiful, Namaste is all I can say too, Kathy. And Thank You!

  3. Reggie says:

    Heart-rending and beautiful all at the same time. I shall join you in sending prayers and Reiki healing to Japan.

  4. Sybil says:

    Your words are just perfect.

    It is always “somewhere else” or “them”. It is never “us” until that day when suddenly “we” are “them”.

    Life is fragile. Enjoy each day.

    Best wishes,

    Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia

  5. Colleen says:

    Yes, Kathy. We have been doing the same. Keeping our hearts open and soft. Praying.

  6. Deborah says:

    You always have such a gentle and tender way of weaving a literary intimacy into all things that being human enfolds. Yes, each average moment is a greater blessing, than many ever take the time to know. Thank you for reminding us all – about what it is, that is truly important.

    Sighing with you –

  7. kiwidutch says:

    Thank you for a beautifully written post that touched my heart and bought tears to my eyes.
    I know that I am extra sensitive to Japans earthquake and tsunami trauma since only a few weeks ago I was frantically trying to contact my own family and friends in Christchurch New Zealand to find out if they were safe after the earthquake there.
    The feeling of panic is all too real, the scale of the devastation in Japan is almost beyond comprehension as the wave destroyed almost everything in it’s path. The forces must have been terrifying.
    Now they have the stress of their atomic energy crisis as well…
    Most of all, lives will never be the same. Buildings can be replaced but so many so families in the region will have lost people they loved and that is a tear in the heart that can never be truly mended.
    Life is fragile and who knows what tomorrow will bring…
    Beautiful words… Thank You.

  8. barb says:

    Our thoughts and hearts are in the same space, Kathy. I truly believe: “Life is short and precious.”

  9. OM says:

    I am reminded of the play by Thornton Wilder “Our Town” in which folks who are “dead” are watching the living go about their lives without appreciating the preciousness of what they have just by being alive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Town

  10. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Poignantly and thoughtfully written, Kathy… Thank you..

  11. Dawn says:

    You are spot on…as always. Friday at work I kept wondering why I wasn’t hearing more talk about what was happening over there, v.s. talk about what people were planning to do on the weekend. Did we not realize such a terrible thing was happening? Or were we just too far away to recognize it. Perhaps Friday we truly didn’t realize how bad it was…but we do now. We do now.

    And perhaps we have become immune to disasters…as they happen over and over across the world. And maybe we’ve become jaded as the $ we’ve sent to Katrina, or Haiti somehow didn’t help as much as we thought it should…

    Regardless…we need to help.

  12. Marianne says:

    Beautiful post, Kathy. An overwhelmingly sad situation. Heart-wrenching is what I feel.

  13. Jeanne Marie says:

    Beautiful words…Beautiful pictures

  14. wolfsrosebud says:

    I see your vacation is opening another view point… have fun.

  15. flandrumhill says:

    Such a thought- and prayer-provoking post Kathy. Here’s to making the most of yet another wonderful ‘ordinary day.’

    That photo of father and son on the beach should be blown up and framed.

  16. sonali says:

    Thats absolutely right. You never know about natural disasters, people of Japan had no idea they would exist no longer in sometime 😦 And the three consecutive nuclear reactor blasts after the quake! sad 😦 May god give the survivors strength to handle the crisis. The world is with them.

  17. jeff vanderhorst says:

    Thanks for the reminder , we do take so much for granted and overlook so much that we would miss . I have been glued to the news and I find it impossible to get my head around what is happening in Japan. It is like a Kurosawa movie playing itself out on TV. But if there is one country that can overcome and rebound from something like this it is Japan. I know that doesn’t help those who are suffering now but we have to look forward.

  18. Elle says:

    Wonderfully said. Thank you.

  19. You have me all choked up, fighting back tears. Beautifully written… the fog over the ocean looks eerie, especially in the first picture.

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  21. Kathy says:

    Thank you all for caring so deeply. Thank you so much.

  22. jensiper says:

    that was so beautiful kathy
    thank you

  23. Carol says:

    This has been said many times, but it is true – beautiful!

  24. Karma says:

    How beautifully you’ve written about a tragedy. Sometimes I wish I could see things how you do.

  25. Kathy says:

    Thank you again for your caring hearts~~all of you. Blessings!

  26. I felt like I was right there with you on that beach Kathy. . .loved the sand castle:)

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