As I write to you, I am looking through my office window.
And I do this often.
I am watching the sunrise above the rooftops and above the telephone poles with wires that run and connect one house to the next. I drink from my coffee mug and take my moment of silence so I can ease into this last day of the week.
There is a slight wind picking up. The trees are swaying and the birds are beginning to chirp as morning takes its place. Much of the world is sleeping as I write this.
As I write to you, my house is sleeping. My dogs have positioned themselves on my side of the bed because they want to be closest to my wife.
My bird Oscar is perched on one leg in his oversized cage, and the rooms in my home are only dim as the early sunlight makes its approach.
Looking through my living room window as I came down stairs at 5:30 this morning, I watched the red lights flash in the distance on top of a blue water tower that stands above a suburban town called North Bellmore.
There was no sound in my home, other than the start of my forced air heating system. I could feel the cold from outside stop at the large, plate glass window, which faces south, and on the other side of that window, my street in the little town called East Meadow was quiet.
Not far from the distant water tower, just further south and west is the Meadowbrook Parkway. And as I exit the southbound side onto the Loop Parkway and drive over the Loop Parkway Bridge, I come to the end and find myself in a small town known as Point Lookout.
The small beach town has been around for decades. And though the houses are small in some cases, they are highly priced. The streets are narrow, but the windows of every home are welcomed with beautiful views.
Even the homes, which are inland instead of waterfront, are gifted with the beautiful sunrise and sunsets.
There is a small super market on the only main road through town. There are a few stores; there are a few restaurants, and of course, there is a local real estate agent.
Arriving at the end of the Loop Parkway; turning left takes me into the town. There is a marina on the northeast corner of that intersection, which is mostly emptied for the winter season. Only a few of the larger boats remain in the water. All the other finger slips are nothing more than floating dock spaces, vacantly waiting for the warmer months to return.
Straight ahead at the intersection and across from the parkway’s end is an entrance to the beach. This beach is an important part of my childhood. The sands and shoreline have changed with age. But then again, so have I.
This beach has watched me grow from a small boy. I have walked across its sands throughout different periods in my life. I walked this shoreline as a child, and as a troubled teen. I have walked along this beach as a young adult in crisis, and I have walked through these sands before the age of fatherhood.
I have walked this beach in warmer weather and in cold. I have made my way from the rock-piles that start at Jones Inlet, passed the concession stands where most of the crowds gather to sun themselves during the summer months; I have walked passed the crowds of beach dwellers , through Lido Beach, and up to the beginning of Long Beach.
I take these long walks to clear my thoughts.
And they work.
I feel as though the indentation of my footprints in the sand is an absorption of my concerns and troubles.
I feel as if the sands act like a sponge; the waves move in and then pull out to sea.
Overhead the seagulls swirl around in the sky. They cry out and their calls are the perfect background to the sound of waves folding into shore.
I prefer to take this walk during the colder months. This is when the beach is empty. The sand is slightly firm, but that does not stop it from absorbing my footsteps.
I imagine this as if I’m walking across the spine of Mother Earth, and watching the ocean breathe as the tides move in or out. I watch the commercial ships head out into the Atlantic; I watch the long-liners head out, and on a clear day, I can see the larger ships hauling through the shipping lanes where the ocean meets the sky as they return with freight containers from parts unknown
I view this place as a church or my own personal cathedral. I say God lives here, and while yes, I do enjoy the inside of an actual church; I love the smell and the artwork. I love the sound of Latin hymns or when the Priest sings, “As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen,” I see the beach as a perfect house of prayer.
This is where I come to confess my sins. This is where I come to express my doubts and struggles with faith. This is also where I come to find answers.
I have come here to weep and I have walked this beach to celebrate the successes in my life. This beach has seen me grow in my sobriety as well as mature into fatherhood.
I have a picture of my daughter taken on this beach after New Year’s Day. I took her to Point Lookout because this is where my father took me when I was her age. Together, I walked with The Old Man and to keep him and the tradition alive; I bring my daughter with me so she can feel a piece of my history.
Chapter 11 in the Book of John explains about the raising of Lazarus.
Lazarus was sick, and though Judea was not welcoming to the Son of Man, He chose to travel there. But upon His arrival, the Son of Man learned that Lazarus had already passed and he was entombed for four days.
Lazarus had a sister named Martha. She greeted the Son of Man and said, “If you had only been here, I know my brother would not have died.”
Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will rise again.”
“I know he will,” said Martha. “He will rise again in the last day at the resurrection.”
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Not far from where Martha met Jesus, her sister Mary was home and mourning. Martha hurried home to gather her sister. “Come,” she said. “The Teacher is here.”
Mary ran off and when she found Jesus waiting, she fell to her knees. “If you had only been here, my brother would have not died.”
The two sisters wept and others followed to comfort them. They took Jesus to where they laid Lazarus.
And he wept.
Jesus ordered them crowd to move the stone that closed the tomb, but they questioned him.
“He has been dead for four days, will there not be an odor?”
“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the Glory of God?
As they removed the stone the Son of Man prayed.
“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Then Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!” And so he did.
Lazarus came out, dressed in burial cloth. Jesus told the others to unwrap him.
He said, “Take of the burial clothes and let him go.”
I do believe in the light and resurrection. I believe those who believe in the light shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.
I believe that my memory and my love is an extension of my Old Man’s breath. Therefore he lives.
I believe the sand which absorbs my footsteps is the embrace of those I miss and those I remember.
And because I believe, though my loved ones have died—so do they live because I still love them with all of my heart and I have not forgotten who they are or what they mean to me.
I share these walks with my wife and daughter—this way, whenever I leave the earth, my family and those I love most will always know where to find me.