Mount Sinai of the Pacific

(Florence, OR) Time at the beach house in Florence, Oregon is too short. I could hole up for a month, inviting my muse to join me; reading, writing, hiking the secret path through the shrubs, down into the marsh and over the dunes to the ocean, the tall grass bowing low in deference to the spray and sand that shapes its existence. Mountainous, fierce walls of wave somehow push back against the horizon, looming, towering but never making it to shore with that same foreboding presence. It is as if the floor of the sea keeps tip-tipping back, just enough to pool the water along a voluminous ridge. Saltwater crescendo, tumultuous and building under the orchestration of the distant orb; holding beneath the 238,900-mile baton raised by a crater-pocked director. Who am I to argue that this isn’t the hand of God, that the hand of God is not, in fact, this mysterious force at play. The laws that govern. Call it what you will.

It is night. I’m caught in a dream, a phantom chorus rising. The crescendoing canyon edge has advanced onto shore, plowing the dunes to fill the marsh making me and this tiny home its resounding valley caught in an amaranthine climax.

I wake to the roaring and pad on bare feet to the balcony. Opening the door I expect to find the wall. I am met by the icy Pacific gale and water glistening against the rough boards pressing cold at my heels. As for the wall, it has been carried by degree and shook from a benevolent thurible to consecrate the cedars, the rhododendrons, my eyelids. I am Moses with my face turned away from the glory, the holiness of the all, sparking in silvery notes and rounded chords. I have encountered the immensity in a million tiny drops, in the glinting bright brilliant halo that streams from the porch lights. The doorway.

I step back inside, reluctant to close the door against this miracle. My feet leave moist imprints in the carpet, tracing a path back to bed. I crawl in beside my husband. I wonder if I am too wild, too drenched and charged with the holy. Will I fry him where he sleeps? Will he be able to look on my face or will I be able to look on my own? It seems impossible.

I lie still for a long while, watching the rain on the skylight as it turns to slush and then to flakes. Crystalline stars melting on the tongue of my consciousness. I hear more than see the transformation. I swallow the holy wafers and sleep swallows me. And the roaring of the ocean recedes.

Where have you experienced an unexpected brush with the holy and how do you define that?