Gifts From The Sea


I spent a few weeks on the East Coast of Florida a few summers ago, where I was spending time with my parents. My dad was recovering from esophageal cancer. He was stage four and really sick when I arrived, but started doing much better after we made some changes in his diet (cultured foods, superfoods, protein shakes, and herbs). I also did some energy work on him and we moved a lot of toxins out from his last rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.

There is a Dolphin Conservation Center in Marineland, which is about a mile up from where they live. I got into the habit of walking up there at sunrise every morning either along the beach or road, depending on high tide. My first morning I didn’t make it very far because it was mid-tide on the beach and I was thoroughly distracted by the gorgeous beach and abundance of shells.

With my eyes trained below me I saw the imprint of a large starfish buried in the sand, waiting for high tide. It felt like I had struck gold. This was my first time finding one. It was orange, blue, beautiful, and unreal looking. I immediately thought to take it home so my dad could see it. I carried it on my water bottle up the shore in the hot sun. The wind was blowing and kept knocking the starfish off my water bottle. Each time it fell on the sand my intuition would say, “leave it here.” But I wanted my dad to experience the wonder of it so I would pick it up and place it back on my water bottle. After while it started wrapping its arms around the neck of the bottle. When the wind knocked if off my bottle right before I reached the condo I picked it up and broke one of its arms. I started to panic. I felt for sure I had made a mistake bringing it home.

My mom and I immediately put it in water, and I brought it in to show my dad. He was thrilled and said he hadn’t seen one in years. I then high-tailed it out to the ocean and put it into the growing high tide.  I promised myself that if I were ever lucky enough to find another one, I would kiss it, make a wish, and send it back to the sea where it belongs. I don’t regret showing it to my father, but I had tried to hard to hold onto the experience of it, when it was clear where it was the starfish was meant to stay.

The next morning, I made a silent wish again that I would have the opportunity to find another starfish. Since I had never found one before it seemed like a long shot. Within minutes of being on the beach I found a baby starfish right in my path. I picked it up and it immediately started squirming. Who knows, maybe it was afraid. The other one had been so still. So I did what I said I would do: I kissed it, made a wish, and put it into the waves. A few minutes down the beach I found another medium-sized one. I felt blessed and the power of prayer. I made a wish and sent it back to the sea.

I’ve had trouble in the past truly appreciating the beauty of fleeting moments, but the abundance of my wish fulfillment with the starfish stayed in my mind. A few days later, I had the opportunity to meet dolphins for the first time up close at the Dolphin Conservation Center in Marineland Florida. I have seen them before in the wild at a distance, but never up close. They were so light in being and happy and playful, just like you hear all the time. My dad made the tremendous effort to come watch me play with them in the hot Florida sun. Not easy if you’re sick and in a wheelchair. The experience was amazing for my parents and me. I met a baby dolphin just a few months old and her mother –a blond dolphin — which are rare. We talked about the experience all day long.

Another day, my mom and I took a walk at sunset to the river with the hopes of seeing more wild dolphins. We had seen some together at this location a few years ago. There were none that night. The next morning, we both got up early to take a final walk on the beach, tide permitting. We walked down to an empty, crystal white beach with a luminescent ocean glimmering pearl white, pastel blue, green, and pink. After a few minutes of walking down the beach and staring into the ocean, I spotted a dolphin arcing through the water, and then another, and then another. It was a family feeding at sunrise. We saw the baby dolphin up close, very near the ocean’s edge. The dolphins arced through the water and traveled with us as we walked. We stopped again to stare when the ocean turned all pink and a pink sun began to rise. We saw a fourth dolphin — a blond one — arc through the water. It was stunning, and much more than for that which we could have wished or hoped.

In Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea, she quotes Blake on recognizing and appreciating the sacred in fleeting moments of beauty and joy:

“…(s)he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”

The fleeting, unexpected moments we experience are often the best and the most meaningful.

My dad has since passed away.  It wasn’t his time here anymore.  It was bittersweet, seeing him for the last two weeks in Florida that I did.  But it was profound and beautiful too.  We got to spend quality moments together, and to say a proper goodbye.  And he filled me with his steady wisdom like he always has.  “Never give up,” he said.  “Too many people lose the light from their eyes.”  I’ll remember that more than anything beyond our final games of battleship.  Never give up and remember from where you came.  Stay awake and keep your hope alive.

My heart is filled from these unexpected gifts from the sea and my time spent on the beautiful Florida coast. I can see why people retire here. It’s about returning to our deep origins. There are so many dreams we come from, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you truly wish. The world is limitless, and wishes are often granted in ways even better than you could ever imagine. All you you have to do is ask/pray and be grateful for its fulfillment no matter which form the universe decides it takes. Even for only a few moments of divine grace, the memory will last with you a lifetime.