Day by Day
Ocean’s sound spurs waves of thankfulness
By LIZ THOMPSON
December 1, 2019
This Week News
The wind was blowing the trees sideways.
Leaves were falling like rain as I waited for the actual rain to begin.
Early last month, autumn in its glory of color and cool temperatures were blowing out of Ohio. Winter was close behind.
My friend, Sonja, called me while the winds blew.
“Liz, have you listened to the leaves? They sound like the ocean.”
“The leaves on the ground?” There were plenty of those.
“No, in the trees. Go listen.”
So I did. It took me a moment to match the sound with the idea of the ocean.
Then I got it. The wind blowing the drying leaves in the trees sounded like the ocean surf as it rolled onto the beach. I could almost smell the saltwater and feel the cold waves splashing over my bare feet.
Never once had I thought about how one distinct sound could remind me of another – especially two so different. Dry leaves and ocean surf? Yet there it was flowing into my brain. I could close my eyes and remember being at the ocean and figuratively lapping up the sound.
In 1976, I was in the ocean at Martha’s Vineyard. My 2-year-old daughter played in the sand. The surf drowned out all other sounds, except for the squawking seagulls as they swooped through the sky.
By 1992, sounds were elusive, and by 2000, they had gone silent.
In 2002, though, I received my first cochlear implant. When I visited my daughter and her family in California, of course, I went to the ocean.
That’s when I stood in the surf once again and heard the waves rolling onto the beach. The water washed over my bare feet, and I sunk partly into the sand as I stood there soaking in the beautiful sound. The rhythm hummed in the air and vibrated in the sand.
During December, I’m especially aware that another year is ending and a new one is peeking around the corner. With the joy of Christmas closing out the month, I often find myself counting my blessings.
I review the year and see what I, and others in my life, have come through.
Irving Berlin might have thought of this when he wrote “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep),” sung in the movie “White Christmas”:
“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I fall asleep, counting my blessings.”
When I think about counting my blessings so I can go to sleep, I think I might never get to sleep because the count would be so high.
What a lovely problem to have.
Typically, we think of a blessing as something we have or have received.
Hindsight gives us 20/20 vision. As we age, we have many more experiences to review and are able to see the world with perspective.
Many of my experiences have included struggles. While riding the wave of troubles, all I could see was the long to-do list, the endless what-ifs or the physical or emotional pain and uncertainties.
Now I can see the blessings derived from getting through these times. I came out stronger and more appreciative.
As the seemingly endless waves roll to shore, we wonder if we can withstand the rush of life pressing in. Often, we feel we are sinking and all hope is lost.
One of my favorite hymns also talks about counting our blessings. Written in the early 1900s by Johnson Oatman Jr. and Edwin O. Excell, “Count Your Blessings” begins:
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
The true reason Christmas exists is that God came down to reveal his love and ultimate blessing.