The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow, Isaac Holmes.

The sun breaks over the ocean at seven o’clock now. It trails gently into the sky, settling into the distant mountains before dinner. The waves are constantly battling the rocky coast. Some days, the ocean throws itself against the roughly hewn granite, soaring up in a fury and falling as gentle mist. Fog rolls off the sea, blanketing the landscape, receding as the sun warms the earth and breaks through the spruce trees. There is less light each day in this rugged and alluring land; the brighter seasons have gone but will come again. The sun makes it not-so-high in the sky, and the quiet comes more quickly with every moon. It is rough and gentle; rugged and fragile; light and dark; sunup and sundown. It is a constant cycling of things in intrinsic dance.

I play only a minor part in the goings on in such a sublime production. I wake each morning, have breakfast, read for a moment, and rush to work. My favorite days are working the later shift and watching the sunset through the trees. Leading night hikes and campfire talks, watching students stir while waiting their turn to make s’mores, or seeing their faces light up in the wake of a dazzling milky way above. Being so far from home and having new responsibilities does come with challenges. Some groups are rougher around the edges. Less interested in my lively presentations on tree ID or the difference between weather and climate. The occasional bad attitude or monotonous cooking and cleaning tasks have made my job no less enjoyable.

Over my time away, I have seen changes in myself. Some good, some merely impartial alterations. A positive shift indicates growth, and most growth begins with an observation. The greatest of these noticings is of love. I can now see more clearly what love looks like. When I look out at the ocean, to the ledges and distant coves, I feel it in the salty air. I once heard someone say that love was like a sandy beach, with the waves washing over every grain to make them smooth. I think sometimes love is more like a cove full of cobbles, fist-sized stones giving way to the raw power of an endless ocean. They make quite the racket when a surge wells up, reaching with deep currents to carry the stones over one another. Other times, when the surf is soft, the white-crested giants sleep, and ripples coat the once-dry rocks. Love is like both of these. The tides cycle in and out, and the moon pulls upon the waters; gentle, rough, consistent, and powerful: that’s the love I’ve come to know. 

Sometimes the tide recedes, what seems too far, or stones snap into halves, but the water is still there, and the broken rocks will be rounded again. Even in drought, the ocean of love is incomprehensibly vast to a meager little stone like myself. It is utterly undeniable. I could fight, curse, or run from it, but I won’t ever escape it. No matter how far away the waves may seem, the water still hangs in the air, and I can lick the salt from my lips; the ocean may seem to come and go, but it forever surrounds us. We often take low tide to mean we are alone or rough surf as punishment, but truthfully, it is all part of the cycle of love. 

Cycles will always be a part of life; as surely as the tide rises and the sun sets, there will be ups and downs, into-works and out-of-works, people easy to love, and challenging ones. We are but travelers drifting towards a destination, and we choose what we will fulfill during our time. I have done my best to serve humbly on a dedicated team and act with the love that dwells within me. I have grown relationships with people surrounded by the intoxicating grandeur of this place; to live here is to live poetry. I have climbed mountains, walked through valleys, and been as low as the sea. Through the cycle, I have done my best to remain steadfastly reverent to my creator and live as love does. I have learned and am learning how I can demonstrate the boundless love given to me. Within this world, I am small. One man- one cobble- tossed into an unfathomable ocean consumed by all that love does. It shapes, comforts, and breaks us. It is unending and ever-present. Love cycles in and out of us, moving us differently from one moment to the next. It is our strength and our guide, patient and kind. It has brought me, like a rock on a beach, to where I am now, and I will follow where it leads me next.