The siren of summer lured me off my writer’s path and I went willingly to sit on the ocean’s edge and contemplate. Stretched before me was the Atlantic, so far into the horizon that even squinting did not allow me to see its end. When these moments came there was no choice but to stop and raise a hand to shield the sun from my eyes, to pause for the solar rising or setting. All thoughts passed away and my mind was relieved of burdens and bundles of musts and must-nots.
As I shake the sand from my suitcase and out of my shoes I am reluctant to return to the pace and routine I set aside. Vacation is a place where time stops, there is no calendar and no alarm clock. The beach beckons and you go, nothing else is required of your time. Nothing.
Days before I journeyed to the shore I was given a tour of a facility in New York City: Hope Lodge. There I met a team of persons dedicated to serving the needs of people undergoing therapy for cancer. Reminiscent of a five star hotel, Hope Lodge provides patients and their caregivers accommodations during the long treatments related to their disease. Individuals who live at a distance and require a commute over an hour are eligible to be one of the over sixty guests at the Lodge.
Walking along the shore with sea water lapping my ankles I thought long and hard about Hope Lodge. I prayed that I might never have to use the facility for the purpose it was intended and despite the beauty of its interior and the warmth of the staff, I mumbled to myself an entreaty to God that He might spare me that fate.
The people I met on my tour were extremely enthusiastic and excited about the subject of my book and how we could (I could) become a part of the fight against breast cancer. Without knowing a reason to write about a character with breast cancer other than the old stand-by, I had to; I discovered on that tour and during my subsequent meditations by the ocean, a more valid reason.
Perhaps another entity was at work, guiding my hand and my imagination, and perhaps that entity had a knowing that I would be introduced to Hope Lodge and when that day came, which it did, I would recognize the reason.
There is a place where we all must travel, a place along our path that is not illuminated, where darkness rules. The descent into darkness is not unlike being swallowed by the biblical whale. Hope and survival is the message of my story and hope and survival are the premise on which Hope Lodge was built.
Blog what you see, hear, feel and pray.
Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale