Yesterday was a pretty cool day.
Actually, it was a really cool day.
I’ll tell you about it in just a sec, because I need to give it some context (which is a very literary thing to do and I am wicked literary-al).
It’s been one of those strange and unsettling periods of life lately.
As we were approaching June, JoHn and I were realizing that we were coming up on a year since moving to Maine. June 1st would be the anniversary of the day we all woke up as Maine residents for the first time.
‘We all’ isn’t the same as it was then. ‘We all’ were three when we moved here, but now we are two.
June 1st is also Granny’s birthday (and oh, how she loved her birthday).
So, that time of year creeping up had us really feeling the difference, and we did all the welling up that went along with it (dark humor ever-present, of course).
Suddenly, just as May was ending, we got a message from a close friend letting us know that another, much adored friend had died.
Phone calls and conversations laced with that odd disbelieving belief and profound sadness and love and what-can-we-dos ensued. The binding glue to all of this activated, of course, by tears (edges buffed, if only lightly, by laughter).
And then, two weeks later, there was another death.
And on the heals of that, another.
Loved ones and/or precious family members of cherished friends.
A sour cherry on top of lament’s sundae came during a ride to one of the memorial gatherings last week. A friend had fallen, and been injured. She’d been an octogenarian for years, and we are well aware that old bones heal far more slowly than they once did. I promised to head straight to the hospital to visit upon my return from the service.
Pummeled by waves, yearning for a deep breath.
But then… yesterday.
There were waves then too, but these were the good ones.
And, again, I was in the midst of them…
On a beautiful working boat, with great people, the sun beaming – as the clouds allowed – from its perch in a blue sky.
The Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition begun centuries ago, in Mediterranean fishing communities (so says Wikipedia). Last year, I made my way down to the waterfront to observe it all for the first time, and it was amazing.
Well, this year, I got an e-mail from a new friend whom I’ll refer to as The Captain (mostly because everyone else does). And the e-mail was an invitation not only to observe the Blessing of the Fleet, but to join a small crew of folks on his working lobster boat…
I could be part of the fleet!
My reply back began with a single word, followed by appropriate punctuation.
I am telling you, this was big.
I checked and re-checked my camera leading up to the big event. The Captain even said we had to muster at a certain time.
I googled that right away and found out that ‘muster’ means to “assemble (troops), especially for inspection or in preparation for battle.”
In my brain, I replaced ‘battle’ with ‘blessing’ because I wasn’t feeling very combative.
Afraid to be late and miss this opportunity, I arrived at the pier a bit early, and found The Captain. We were talking about something, or something else, when JoHn, Sam, and Gabe rocked up to wish us well before taking their positions in the crowd to await the blessing. But as we were walking down toward the boat, The Captain would have none of it. No standing on the pier and waving to us was going to happen. He graciously invited them aboard!
We got to know our fellow crew mates through handshakes and smiles, as The Captain’s son took the helm and guided us out of the inner harbor to assemble.
There were lobstering and fishing boats everywhere.
People were laughing and waving to each other. They were even dancing.
And not to any specific music that I could hear on any boat or distant dock or cottage.
Just… to life, and what it was offering at that given glimpse of time.
I found myself completely in the present, feeling incredibly grateful for the day.
There were so many boats, I could not count them. I couldn’t imagine how they would find their way into a formation to head back into the harbor, but at a certain time, they did. And we were suddenly all in line – boats and captains and crews – chugging toward blessings and wishes for all good things.
Friends, family… and a centuries old tradition.
How cool is that?
Local folks and those ‘from away’ lined streets and piers and porches and balconies to waving and shouting good stuff.
As we got to the pier where the blessing would take place…
Priest… pastor… minister… rabbi…
United in their wishes and hopes and blessings.
My brain grabbed that idea and ran with it.
In the worst of times, the good jumps right in and rolls with all the rest.
It always does.
Small acts of kindness in the midst of humanity’s worst behavior…
Undeniable acts of bravery when nature overwhelms.
The good suits up and jumps right in with all the tough stuff, and all the time.
We just have to pay attention.
And yesterday I did.
Tough stuff lately, for sure.
But also love and support and folks being there for folks.
Life goes on though all of these things.
Life goes on.
We go on.
And, as it has for hundreds – well, thousands of years actually…
The fleet goes on.
Here’s to a safe and bountiful season for all, and thanks for readin’.
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