A few years ago, I was invited to offer a workshop for teachers in the United Kingdom. Because of flight schedules, I had two days at the end of the workshop for free time. I have friends who live in Wales, and this was a wonderful opportunity to visit. I stayed in a small inn in the town of Llandudno which looks out on the small harbor that is created by two arms of land, or ormes. It was an incredibly beautiful sight, and both days while there, I took an early morning walk along the harbor. I was curious the first morning about signs that warned not to walk in the harbor while the tide was out. It just made no sense. Until I saw the tide go out. The entire bay became what appeared to be dry land. This beautiful seascape at one hour became “dry land” after the tide withdrew. I learned from my friends that the warning signs are taken very seriously by locals. Not only do the tides go out so significantly that dry land appears, but when the tide returns it returns with a rush and a vengeance that would drown anyone who thought to go walking out in the dry harbor.
The ormes in that place do create a safe, beautiful harbor that shields the town from some harsher weather systems and make it a most beautiful tourist town to visit. I still think of that view and those two days with such joy and peace of mind. I can still feel it in my body when I remember it. At the same time, the harbor creates this most dangerous place when people do not respect the unforgiving changes of the tide.
The metaphor speaks loudly to me. There are times, situations, relationships and activities that create beauty, rest and safety for me. Those very same times, situations, relationship and activities can in an instant turn into something dangerous or at least less than healthy if I fail to respect the limits, the boundaries, the rhythms involved.
What are the harbors that we turn to? Are they safe, still? Have they become less than safe? Does it depend . . . on the respect we bring to them? Everything is always changing, and we are invited to respect these constant changes. When we enter the present, we find our true harbor.