The beach has always been a special place – one for healing, for laughter, for rejuvenation.  Never was this more true than the summer of 2012.

Blue HeronI met this heron on my first sunrise walk of the summer. He was injured and moving slowly yet still possessed such grace….  I stared.

I found myself motionless – captivated in wonder at this beautiful bird  and thankful beyond measure that I had this moment.  He was injured — that was evident.  But yet he stood with such patience and waited for the fish – his nourishment – to come near.   Elegance and serenity radiated from this tall, proud bird.  He stood for all of these things:  strength, elegance, serenity, patience… But mostly, he stood for grace.

You see….

My summer was off to a rocky start.  On June 13th, I had heard the words:  You have cancer.

It was cervical cancer.  It was early.  It was probably contained.  And my doctor and I spoke as one when we declared, “Let’s get it OUTTATHERE!!”  Surgery was scheduled for July 9th – a time too far away and too near.

On the morning of my first Blue Heron encounter,  I’d just taken a call from my doctor during which I heard that things might be “more complicated” with my diagnosis and I was frightened to my core.

I felt injured … And I was moving slowly.

That morning on the beach, I prayed for the grace of this majestic bird as I soaked up the peace blessings of the sand, of the sky, and of the surf…

My prayers were heard and answered.

There was, in fact, no evidence of invasion.

Those were, in fact, my new favorite words:  NO EVIDENCE OF INVASION.

Two surgeries later, I was on my road to recovery.  At the earliest possible opportunity and at every feasible moment, I was back on the beach for my sunrise walks.

Throughout the summer of 2012,  I continued my beach communion of sunrises, walks and prayers.

And I sought out this feathered friend.

As I healed throughout the summer, I saw my heron friend heal.

To see him now, you’d never know he’d been wounded… But if you look closely, you’ll see he has a scar.

He is not damaged, but he is different.

His life has been changed… And still, he moves with grace.

I am like him.  I am not damaged, but I am different.

My life, too, has changed…. And still, I pray for grace.