Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Pacific Ocean

This morning I hitchhiked from Philomath to Newport, Oregon on U.S. 20. It is a beautiful, partly-cloudy day here on the beach just west of Newport. There is a constant roar from the waves of the Pacific crashing onto the sandy beach. I found a nice rock with a flat top to do my writing. There is a grassy cliff behind me and a vast expanse of blue before me.

The last time I was in Newport was back in 2001. I had hitchhiked from Iowa to the coast of Oregon travelling mostly on U.S. 20.

I remember I was hitchhiking in Virginia in the late 1990s and this guy picked me up. He knew a guy who had been all over the world--this guy said that the most beautiful place on the planet was southwest Virginia; he also said that the most beautiful coastline in the world was the coast of Oregon.

I used to live two blocks from the Pacific Ocean while I was living in Venice, California. I lived in Venice on Howland Canal for three months in the spring of 1984. At that time, I was working with The Horse and Bird Press of Los Angeles: this press published the poetry of Carolyn Kleefeld. I sold books in New Hampshire, Vermont and California (I was not a very good salesman). I house-sat for Patricia Karahan who was the publisher of The Horse and Bird Press. Patricia had gone to Greece and Spain on vacation--that is how I ended up in Venice.

I was told by someone who lived in Los Angeles that LA was the most stressful place to live in the United States. I would have to agree. Every Wednesday I would drive to Century City and pick up the mail for The Horse and Bird Press. When I got back, I would have a splitting headache: the traffic, the people, the air pollution all contributed to the stress.

The first week that I was in Venice, I had a persistent sore throat. It was probably from the smog. So I would drink a quart of orange juice every day. My sore throat disappeared.

Usually, every night I would walk the two blocks to the beach just to sit on the sand and listen to the pleasant roar of the waves hitting the beach--I guess it was my therapy for living in such a stressful city.

I remember seeing this guy walking around the boardwalk in Venice in a white robe--he was also barefoot (but I don't think he was with the Discalced Carmelites). I thought that he was a Hare Krishna follower. So I walked up to him and asked him about his beliefs. He told me that he was a Christian and that he walked in faith. I told him that I had been a Christian for two years. I asked him if he needed a place to stay for the night. So he stayed at my place on Howland Canal for the night.

I made him some soup and sandwiches and then we had a good talk about the things of God that evening. He told me that he had spent some time in Italy: the people there thought that he was Francis of Assisi. I had a copy of Thomas Merton's The Wisdom of the Desert, so I gave it to him. He was very grateful.

He slept on the living room floor that night and left the next morning. That was probably in April of 1984.

Today, there is a gentle breeze coming in from the ocean. I am glad that it is not raining. It is sunny: there are clouds, but they are high-altitude clouds. There are people walking on the beach.

There is a lighthouse to the north--it is around three miles as the crow flies from where I am sitting. There are a few sea gulls gliding around just above the cliff. There are three people flying kites to the north of me. I see a ship in the distance on the horizon to the port side of me (I have always wanted to say that). So that means that the lighthouse is to the starboard (now I am starting to think of Moby Dick by Herman Melville). This reminds me of the time I hitchhiked up Highway 1 on the coast of California back in the late 1990s: I slept in this grassy field near this lighthouse--I believe it was Point Sur. California also has a very beautiful coastline.

Speaking of the coast of California. I hitchhiked from Nebraska to California back in April of 1983. I stayed with a friend in Big Sur for a week. I then hitchhiked down Highway 1 to a place near Santa Lucia (I don't think this town exists anymore). There was this Camaldolese Monastery near Santa Lucia; the monks let me stay there for three nights--I had my own hermit cell. During that trip, this man and woman picked me up and told me that a friend of their's had a dream about an earthquake that was going to hit California, so she flew to Thailand. Within a week or so of me hearing about this, an earthquake hit the Coalinga area of California (2 May 1983; 6.5 on the Richter Scale).

It has been a very blessed trip from Montana to Oregon. I am breathing and hearing and seeing God's Creation here where the Pacific meets the edge of the Universe. "Breathe, arch and Original Breath"--Gerard Manley Hopkins. The Presence of God has been very strong in the past few days. I thank the Lord for bringing me back to the Pacific Ocean.

God willing, I will head south from Newport on U.S. 101.

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