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  • Wordle: From the Pews in the Back
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The Glow, The Dance, The Dark of the Sea

by Rebecca Lynne Fullan

Sometimes my life gets humid. The air all full and heavy, and I can’t even feel the water that’s weighing it down, but I know it’s there, making it hard to push through. About a week ago, the storm broke, and I was suddenly articulating all the suspected wrongness of my life, all the confusion: not getting into a PhD program, not pretty enough to do theater, too scared and busy to write enough, too bogged down with work to find a place to sing, too poor to help my parents when they get old, too freaked about my maelstrom of religious questions to really commit to being in or out of church, too nervous in the face of injustice to really make a difference in anything, anywhere, anyway, and too weak, too fragile, too mortal to do anything but try to hang on as my life zooms right by.

I know most of these things are lies. Even as they bubbled over my lips, I knew they were lies, or distortions of the truth. F.E.A.R., my dad calls it, False Evidence Appearing Real. But still, it was a storm, and I in it. And somehow in all of this Charlotte started telling me about entropy and chaos, and how you feel like entropy’s destroying everything, but it’s also creating everything, that it is the overall tendency of the universe toward disorder that creates the order and the patterns that we see around us.

And then inside I began to feel a question pressing out, a question about God. “Which one is God?” my inside insisted, “the chaos or the order?” My outside was embarrassed, and hesitated to say this out loud. Charlotte was trying to tell me about science, and here I had this question about God that is totally squishy and intuitive and not scientific at all. But my inside kept asking, and this is what I heard, inside, in reply:

You have to let go of everything you think you know. Why on earth do you think you’re dating a maybe-atheist? You have to let go of everything you think, especially about God.

But it didn’t say God, of course. It said me.

I laughed out loud, surprising Charlotte, because after quite the span of silence and dim rooms in my spiritual world, I get this very positive statement, I get this voice, this first-person God-me voice, and it says I have to open my hands and let go of all the ideas about God. You’ve gotta admit, there’s something funny about that.

The problem is, I have no idea how to do it. I’m not even sure what it means. I’m not even sure that I like it, I mean… ideas about God are my thing. I write about them. I read about them. I look at them on the wall and I take them down off the wall and I fetishize the holy hell out of them and then I think some more and I sigh and I write and I feel it down to my toes and I feel nothing, blank, and then I sing church songs to myself while I’m walking down the street, and then I think about these ideas about God some more.

Let go? How?

This past Friday night, Charlotte and I were at the beach. We walked down to the ocean at night, once it was totally dark. All I could see from the road was this walkway into the dark, the railing that leads you onto the sand. I felt a shiver of unknown, like there could be anything waiting. I felt anticipation, excitement, an urging forward.

Please, I thought, when I die, it should feel like this.

We walked onto the sand. There were little hooks on the railing named after the 7 dwarves, with one missing—you had to fill in the blank yourself. I put my flip-flops on Happy’s hook. Charlotte chose Bashful’s.

We walked, barefoot now, onto the dark beach. So dark, and the sky crested above and filled with stars, stars I miss in the city. So dark, and the sea rising out of the dark, dark out of dark, with just the ghostly white tops of the waves appearing out of what literally looked like nowhere, but wasn’t nowhere. It was pulsing with presence that I couldn’t pin down at all. Dark sea.

We walked onto the part of the sand that was wet and packed together from the earlier tide, and suddenly Charlotte stopped, and pointed at my feet.

“Look!” And I looked, and there, everywhere we stepped, glowing blue lights appeared and danced under where our feet had been, sparkling and winking into life. Like fireflies. Like fairy lights. Like the sand making a new sky, a new array of stars under our feet.

I have never seen anything like it. They glowed and shimmered and we gasped and marveled and danced. We stomped our feet and turned in circles and laughed and threw our bodies around to distribute our footprints, staring at the glowing ground, euphoric with the mysterious beauty.

After a time, we approached the sea. Apprehensive of its vast invisibility, still we approached. “Just to pay our respects,” I said. We stepped and stepped forward, slowly, quietly, til the ocean came and, ever so gently, washed over our feet.

“I want to do something, to say something,” I mumbled, “but I don’t know what.” After awhile I stretched my arms wide over my head to the sky, and then folded and bowed toward the sea. I did this a few times, never deciding why, and then we turned and walked back.

Back over the beautiful glowing magic sand. Back in the dark. Back to the dock and our
flip-flops hanging on hooks for dwarves.

Let go? How?

Maybe just like this… in the glow, in the dance, in the dark?

Rebecca Lynne Fullan wants you to know, if you are wondering, that the glow is apparently caused by the bioluminescence of tiny organisms! And that the dwarves included were Dopey, Happy, Doc, Sneezy, Bashful, Grumpy. Know which one is missing?


3 Responses

  1. Pretty sure it’s Sleepy. 🙂

    Loved this post, Becky. A bio-luminescent sea is one of my favorite sights. You’re right, it’s marvelous and inspires some sort of reverence. And, when the waves crash the ocean makes its own fireworks display.

  2. Sleepy! He’s my favorite 🙂

    Thanks so much for this, Becky. Every time I ever read anything you write, I think, I didn’t even know I was thinking things like this until I read them and they resonated. You have such a gift for putting the un-word-able into words. It’s crazy. And so wonderful. And I’m so thankful that you keep sharing it.

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Becky and Kate. The thing about the un-word-able is so helpful, because it always feels un-word-able when I am trying to write, and yet I keep trying! So it’s good to know when it works.

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