The Sacred Beach

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Leave your shoes at the entrance. Set your feet free to stretch into a new shape, toes squelching sand as the balls and arches of your feet find a new groove  walking towards the water on the sacred carpet of white sand. Even if they can’t participate in it in reality, perhaps living an outback life,this is the altar to the divine for most Australians, the sacred beach. 

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Here we disrobe easily from the constrictions of the everyday persona and slide into an easier existence.On the threshold between earth and water, humans, and dogs can find a new understanding of the mysterious rythyms of life. It is after all the matrix of all life from which our species emerged millions of years ago. We are more likely to question this very evolution in its present stressful and artificial form when we connect once again with the eternal and ever-changing sea deity.

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But while some may ponder the deeper questions of life, many others want to celebrate it in that time honoured Aussie ritual of the barbie on the beach.There’s nothing like eating on the beach in summer; sand inevitably finding its way into your food, washing your hands in the sea before and after eating and leaving scraps for those pestering seagulls. My favourite  meal is to get a really great serve of fish and chips and take it on the sand, smelling the sea salt, while eating it on the chips. A meal worthy of the deity herself.
Contrary to international belief, having a picnic on the beach on Christmas day was not an Australian tradition until very recently. I remember growing up how my mother would almost kill herself in the heat providing a traditional English feast while my American and French pen pals assumed we would be down at the nearby beach having salad and ice cream. That would have been the sensible thing to do but old traditions die hard. Times have now changed and new beach traditions are springing up.
It’s great to see families, large and small of all cultural backgrounds making the beach their home. We often assume that people of other cultures can’t appreciate the uniqueness of the land and our attitude and relationship with the beach but in my experience many maintain that sense of wonder at its beauty and abundance when we have taken the place for granted.
Being at the beach is like looking up at the stars; we can see where we have come from, feel awed at the mystery and magnitude of existence , or  feel connected to the divine ebb and flows of life. Amen to the latter I say

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