Paula Damon

“T'was Grace that taught [me]…”“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, Anglican Minister

In the wake of mid-February’s frigid wind, I am compelled to recall it is summer somewhere.

Longing for relief from menacing cold, I surround myself with memories from years past: sinking my toes in warm beaches on the ocean.

There is a sundry of enlightenment I’ve accrued by the sea, which has proven time and time again to be a rich habitat full of lessons for the taking.

Despite humanities greedy indulgences and picayune preferences, ocean creatures march to the beat of a different drum, cohabiting, procreating and surviving without help.

Platting a shallow causeway off the Gulf of Mexico, dolphins glide gracefully in pairs and pods through glistening blue sea waters of Laguna Madre.

Escorted by their parents as bookends, offspring stay in check, aligning with their elders in follow-the-leader fashion.

It’s widely documented they are intelligent creatures with social structures and complex cognitive and communication skills.

Even before birth, dolphin mothers teach prenatal young their names and signature whistles in unforgettable melodies comprised of a series of self-styled clicks and calls.

Whistling and signing with physical gestures, keeping tabs on each other, identifying food sources, relaying rules of engagement and warning of approaching danger.

In the wake of dolphins’ melodic and sometimes slumbering chords, Starfish dwell abundantly.

Unlike dolphins, Starfish, also known as Sea Stars, have no brains or blood, yet can regenerate their own arms. (Wouldn’t that come in handy for aching flareups of bursitis, arthritis and tendinitis?)

Without suction cups to pry open shellfish for the tasty food inside, Starfish swallow shells whole and later spit out what they can’t digest .

One time, while beach combing, I came upon a peaceful dwelling called The Chapel by the Sea situated on the Gulf. That is where I was introduced to Pastor Sam.

I really like Pastor Sam. His sermons are humorous with unforgettable word-pictures.

Every time he preaches, he teaches a simple lesson to apply in everyday life.

In one of his sermons, the amiable Reverend shared results from a likability survey.

The questionnaire determined 50 percent of the people we know don’t like us.

Another 25 percent could take us or leave us. They tolerate us but easily could abandon us over the slightest misstep.

What about the remaining 25 percent? This group would stand up, stand by, stand in and stand with us – forever.

These are the ones, Pastor Sam declared, on whom we must focus.

From the brilliance of dolphins intuitively instructing one another, to starfish upchucking the bad stuff, to learning where to cast our focus and energy….oh, what a relief it is, recalling grace by the sea, in the throes of another blustery winter.

Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning writer whose columns appear weekly in regional newspapers in the Upper Midwest. Over the years, the author’s works have garnered top honors, including her creative non-fiction chapbook “Look. Don’t Look.” – garnering First Place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 writing competition. For more information, email boscodamon.paula@gmail.com.

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