Head west down Main Street and when you see the pier on the left, take the small ramp down to the parking lot and you’ll see it. Exit your vehicle or bike and perhaps take off your boots or shoes or sandals because we’re treading on holy ground.
The crunch and slippage of the sand underfoot amid the blacktop is part of the magic. Most days you’ll feel a brisk wind or blast of wind if you come to the Holy Land in winter. Climb through the concrete barrier and a gentle rise of sand will greet your toes. Choose right or left, but don’t think too hard because there’s much room to play.
I’m not sure when I journeyed to this sacred place for the first time. Maybe one, two, or five. We’d only lived a few miles from this heavenly sanctuary, and visits were frequent. I never quite understood the locals who hid this light under a bushel and could take or leave this place. For another time.
When my memories became more solid around age six, my father packed the car on a Saturday or Sunday not sure for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He strapped a ten foot Harbour longboard atop the Chevy Blazer, a six or seven footer for his little buddy as he liked to call me. We entered the parking lot, unstrapped the boards, and my father held both boards under his muscular arms. I followed behind like a baby deer following their mother into the woods.
Dad helped zip a miniature sized wetsuit on my little boy frame and he did the same for himself. We dipped our feet into the cold Pacific waters and jumped back like being stung by a bee. The waters in the West are rarely warm even in the middle of August. But after all these years, nothing is better than the initial jolt of lighting coursing through your body as you dunk under a wave and acclimate to the temperature. A baptism of peace and joy and aliveness as you pierce up through the other side, your eyes stinging with salt.
My pilgrimage to the Holy Land in my younger years was the day I learned to surf. But the surfing was a sideshow to the friendship I made with a body of water named the Pacific Ocean. A lifelong friendship that carried me through teenage years of lostness and a family divorce and addiction to all the wrong things.
A particular afternoon, perhaps sophomore or junior of high school, I had paddled out into the Holy Land. My chest feeling like someone much larger than me was standing on it. The weight of teenage temptation and wondering if life would ever be the same after my parents divorce. I’d paddled out into my heavenly sanctuary to make sense of things. It must’ve been winter because I remember being in a full wetsuit and nobody was in the water.
The sun was sitting low on the horizon like a teenager slumped in a chair in biology class. I paddled and paddled in the stinging cold water and ducked under a wave or two. One gift of the Holy Land is what some call a wave reset. It’s the lull in between the waves, the silence before the waters speak. A moment to think and meditate and, dare I say pray.
On that day, the Mystery enveloped me. A purpose beyond the waves. The reset came, and the silence came and my chest no longer was tight. A voice speaking and settling and whispering to my soul.
Everything would be ok.