October. Growing up the month meant, above all, sand and water. The leaves turned; we packed the station wagon with coolers and towels and kites and puzzles; we drove out of the city, past Mt. Rainier, through woods, and toward the coast. Washington beaches are not known for their sunny hospitality, even in summer. Fall brought high winds (for the kites) and the occasional storm (for puzzles and hot chocolate).
I have walked this same ligament of land for twenty-seven years. We left the room that morning, my brother and I, shucked our shoes, and headed north. The sand flies fine about our ankles as we trek down to the water and we pause to toe-pick sand dollars, to read the driftwood. We walk along the shoreâ€™s liminal line, damp sand caking our soles. At times the saltwater surges: our feet are cleansed.
When we walk this way, my brother and I, we often link arms. Although he is younger, I must look up to see his face. Today, for a while, we talk on mundane topics: school, girlfriends, children, work.
â€œDo you believe in God?â€?
There is an intimate connection between blood, sand, and spirit that rises to the surface and is renewed each year for me upon this shore. These sands have witnessed my fatherâ€™s testimony, my motherâ€™s teachings, my sisterâ€™s songs, my brotherâ€™s belief. A familyâ€™s faith found.
Waves quietly and continually shift this ground. Facing north, I move along the earth, a granular strand giving way beneath my feet. Perhaps I should not build my home here; perhaps it is a sign of weakness that I draw my strength from sandy ground. And yet I prefer to think of it in terms of expiation and revelationâ€”a sure knowledge that change is possible, and will come.