Five Oceans Blessing
On five early mornings in October, I felt five oceans calling me. At first a whisper and then a shout and then something like an alarm. It felt like an emergency. It was urgent. And so, while it was still dark, I ventured out with the strangest of items in tow to create something special.
I packed my car with a beach chair, portable table, two rakes, a candle, braided sweetgrass, dried corn, volcanic stones, an abalone shell, and my collection of microplastics.
I drove to Torrey Pines State Beach and parked on the road right along the shore, where I waited in the predawn with other cars lined up like me, answering their own mysterious calls to show up. Some slept and some meditated in stillness. Some cracked their windows and rested in the raucous silence of crashing waves. And some stopped momentarily, and then drove off for work or home or somewhere else.
At the first hint of light, I moved my supplies onto the deserted beach. First, I raked the area clear of seaweed, stones, and feathers, and then I made a design in the sand. The design shape is between me and the oceans, but rest assured, they were simple and beautiful and enjoyed by the birds who left their prints in the soft sand as they strolled past me.
Then I approached the water and spoke directly to the oceans in the way I’d learned to speak to my grandparents, with awe and love, “Dear Pacific Ocean, may I offer a blessing from this shore with my feet in this cold water, with the brisk air on my face, and the warm sun rising behind me?” And the request was repeated each day, but with a slight change to address each ocean: Dear Atlantic Ocean, Dear Indian Ocean, Dear Southern Ocean, and Dear Arctic Ocean. And each time, after asking, I remained still until I heard, “Yes, you may”.
And then I sat in my beach chair and took out the different containers of colorful microplastics that I’d collected from this beach and many others along the coast, and created a design that somehow symbolized each ocean: waves, a flower, seaweed, krill, and a map. And then I’d sit in silence and observe the waking Earth. After some time, and not before I'd taken a photo, I’d wipe the design clean and return all the pieces to the containers.