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19. Beach Peel

Being a novice meditator,
I'm only just beginning to understand compassion.

This morning I took my dog, Jenny, for a walk on the beach near my home in a sheltered cove on the Long Island Sound. On weekends, particularly in the summer, it is usually crowded, but on this early spring morning, Jenny and I have it all to ourselves. As we walk, I am struck by how far the tide is out. The typically narrow stretch of sand on which Jenny and I perform our daily "exercise" ritual, this morning almost touches the horizon; the waters of the Sound are reduced to just a narrow ribbon separating sand from sky. Then I recall last night's full moon and gratefully accept its gift of a low tide and the additional terra firma it now provides for us to walk on.

Jenny and I, well-matched in our approach to exercise, make our way slowly to the water's edge; me stopping frequently to examine shells and stones, Jenny stopping frequently to examine clumps of seaweed and potentially edible detritus that have been washed ashore. When we finally reach the water's edge, I see it. There, lying on the still-wet sand, is an orange peel -- just a small piece, originally covering perhaps a quarter of an orange, and looking somewhat battered from it's sea journey. Jenny sniffs at it hopefully. I freeze, suddenly realizing where I am.

Here I am standing in a spot where only a few hours previously I would have been completely submerged in sea water, had I not been seated comfortably in my kitchen eating an orange for my breakfast. As Jenny moves on to more promising finds, I stand completely transfixed by this small piece of orange peel.

Had this peel once protected someone else's breakfast?

Was it your orange?

When you ate it, were you hungry?

Were you comfortable?

Were you dry?

Was it sweet?

Did you share it with another?

Was it sweeter for the sharing?

Are we alike, you and I?

Are you happy?

Are you hurting?

Are you fearful?

Are you searching?

Did your orange nourish you as mine nourished me?

I let my questions drift away on a breeze; I still my mind and focus on the orange peel. It speaks gently to me of your spirit.


at the bottom of the sea

am I;

moon full, tide low

feet dry.