I’m picky about beaches. I’m not really a fan of the sunny, Baywatch, surf-n-sand ones. My ideal beach is foggy, windswept, dramatic: the kind we have here in Northern California, for instance. There’s something so evocative and romantic about strolling along the sand on a gray day, shoulders hunched inside my coat, few other people around to intrude upon my thoughts.
Those thoughts always turn to the immensity of the ocean. It’s impossible to look at that horizon and NOT feel humbled. It’s a good kind of humbled, though. It makes me realize that there is so much out there in the world, beyond my own perspective. Looking at the huge sweep of ocean, I can’t help but think of the courage of people who brave those waters and literally sail into the unknown.
Maybe this is why I love the title Stella Maris — Star of the Sea. It’s an old name for Mary, one that emphasizes her role as protector and guide. For centuries, the stars have helped sailors find their way through the treacherous ocean waters. Mary plays a similar role for us landlubbers. When you’re lost in the choppy churning waters of any kind of problem, try firing off a few prayers to her. She can get you back on the right course. She can keep you from drowning.
And I truly believe that Mary, like all moms, wants us to grow beyond ourselves. She wants us to explore the world and especially our own potential — but she wants us to do it safely. As we sail beyond our comfort zones she’s always there, watching us, cheering us on, and hoping we’ll look up whenever we feel lost at sea.