Posted by: alegra22 | October 5, 2009

prayers for Samoa

prayer for SamoaIn typical dyslexic fashion, I learned how to drop into a wave on a surfboard before I could trust myself to swim the length of a pool. It was only after I had been surfing for about five years that my friend Kapeka lured me out beyond the breakers down in Baja Mexico and taught me the basics of swimming. Between all of the paddling and praying that my surfboard leash wouldn’t break, I had developed strength that translated naturally into swimming but I didn’t know this. Before Kapeka’s lessons, if my leash had snapped, leaving me stranded in the waves without the flotation of my board, there is a good chance I would have been in big trouble. While I would not recommend this approach to anyone, the process taught me some invaluable lessons about myself. It also gave me a healthy respect for the ocean’s power.

When I watch movies that contain scenes with waves like The Perfect Storm or  Castaway, there is a hollowing out in my bones, a tightening in my muscles. My lungs gather air and my heart pounds. My body has memorized the ocean and its moods and can summon the visceral experience with very little effort. I understand why my children respond with awe and fear like it is some world-swallowing beast. Because it is. It is beautiful and somehow full of relationship yet terribly impersonal.

I have watched men punch at it in rage and there is nothing that screams ‘impotent’ more than a muscular man try to pick a fight with a wave. I have felt that same frustration, the battering to the sense of self that happens when the ocean picks you up in its teeth and shakes you around. And, I have paddled out again and again, hoping to climb onto the back of all that power. To rest on its calm surface.

In my previous blog I wrote about my dream of the flood, a wall of water moving across the earth. I didn’t make much more of it other than the fact that dreams of water always involve me confronting fears. And by the next day I could easily summarize those fears. Dan had lost his job. I was facing the stress of an unwritten thesis and novel hanging over my head and with a third baby on the way, it was a no brainer as to why I was dreaming about a wall of water threatening to drown me. Most days it feels like I am learning to surf before I can swim. It wasn’t until two days later, as I drove home trying to decide whether or not to pick up my children from daycare and head to higher ground, that the connection between my dream and the tsunami warning in New Zealand hit me.

As we watch the images on television of the devastation in Samoa, as the death toll rises and people we know report about friends who have lost family, I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like. I can feel the water pulling away from the reef. I can hear its roar as it returns. It is not difficult for me to summon the impact of its force. The pressure of my lungs losing air, of my body being swept from solid ground, being slammed against things, pulled apart like a rag doll.  What I can not imagine is having the ocean take my children, my loved ones, and surviving it. I can not imagine the powerlessness of having my babies torn from me. I can not imagine continuing to breathe in their absence.

It does not prevent the restless anxiety of my mind, but it reminds me how easily the most important things can be swept away. It reminds me to hold on to those things and let the other things go. My prayers are with the people  in Samoa who can now only hold those things in their hearts.



  1. Your prayers and mine are with them. Some of our CST members have gone to assist, I wish I could be one of them.

  2. The ocean is one mean bitch!

  3. So sorry about Dan’s job loss and all the devastation. Adding my prayers too. Pete was just asking me how you and your family were doing. Just two days ago.

  4. This article is beautiful. I feel so bad for all the lives lost and interrupted and all the pain and grief of families. And, greedily, I am thankful that it did not include you and Dan and the kids.

  5. Alegra you are an amazing writer. I am excited we will be working on the motherhood muse together. I wanted to stop by to let you know that this summer I had the grand oppertunity to read your work..Salamanders Prayer. It was an assignment from my english instructor…we had to reflect on what your inner meaning to the writing was! Then I saw you where the contributors page on the muse and had to come over for a visit…just wanted to let you know I am honored to be working with you, (indirectly) and I am so excited about it. You are a talented writer.
    Nature Lovin’ Super Mama

    • So sorry it took me this long to reply! I was so taken aback by the idea that my story had been used for discussion I didn’t know how to respond! I am really looking forward to working with the Motherhood crew as well. Thank you so much for coming over this direction and welcoming me.

  6. Love your blog, and hope to check in daily. Thanks for great writing.
    Seattle, WA

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