I don't find it hard to reflect on life any more (the idea of, much less the proceess of, reflection having been pretty much non-existent until I was well into my 20's), but sometimes I still find my reflections to be more like wisps and half-formed ideas and thus hard to write about.  Being in a new place, I also feel that much of my reflecting needs to be done over a longer period of time. Wouldn't want to go off half-cocked and all of that.

Also, I find I need some distance in order to properly reflect on something.  I need to not be in the middle of it.  And while it is true that sometimes an insight just arrives almost magically in my brain or in my heart or in my soul, it is especially true that I need to be intentional about reflecting. I need to set aside time and place for looking back at the day or the week or a situation or an incident and let those insights bubble up from within.  I well remember a trusted mentor telling me that the answers I seek are always inside me, and I just need to make room for them to come to the surface.

Beach time is reflection time for me.  A trip to the beach, a walk on the beach, gives me that time and space for prayer and for reflection.  Everyone has their special places, their thin places, and for me, oceanside is one of those places where I find this wonderful confluence of atmosphere, sound, smell, and tactile experience (I simply must take my shoes off, no matter how cold it is, to walk in the sand along the water's edge as if it were holy ground).  The rhythmic sound of the waves, the birds' cries, the crunch of the sand underfoot aid my inner ear and heart and eye.

And the beauty! Oh, the beauty!  Water, sand, vegetation, shells, and all the birds and their activities! Fishing, preening, resting, floating, diving, eating, flying... the birds at the beach remind me that life is full of doing and not just thinking or wishing or regretting.  I think that's a good backdrop for my reflection time.

If you've read my blogger profile, you will see that I try to go to the beach as often as I can. And I am pleased to say that I now live just over an hour's drive from the ocean.  I spent the afternoon on Saturday at a National Wildlife Refuge where all sorts of birds (and other wildlife, including a marsh rabbit who allowed me to hang out with him while he grazed) flock in the wintertime.  And I plan to go back often.  This is the closest I've lived to a beach since I was in college. I think it will be good for my soul. Very, very good.

Where is the place that is most conducive for reflection for you?


Brenda said…
Great post! I try to do most of my reflecting/serious thinking right here. Have made many life decisions within these walls.
Thanks, Brenda! I wish I'd taken the opportunity to stay at Holy Spirit when I lived nearby!
Perpetua said…
A lovely reflection on reflecting, Penny. For me it has to be the hills, somewhere with a distant view of earth and sky and lots of space and emptiness. I love the seaside too, but it's too reminiscent of holidays, not reflection in my mind.
Perpetua, I know so many people who need to go to the mountains for what I get at the beach. Which is good, since there are plenty of hills around; there might as well be people who appreciate them! I grew up going to the beach for vacation, but I experienced it first as a place of wonder and learning and I guess that has stayed with me into adulthood.