Where the Ocean Meets the Sky

By Stacey J. Sage – March 27, 2019
Sanibel Island-Captiva

Looking out to where the ocean meets the sky, I think of the ancestors; my people, taken from our land, sold into bondage; forced to relinquish our language, our customs, our identity. I think of the “coasting” period; the close quarters and the intentional division of pre-established Afrikan tribes by terroristic ship crews, forcing different tribes to forge bonds of kinship which I’m sure no sooner evolved into trauma bonding, and then eventually true kinship. It made our connections (then and now) complex. I think of some one million eight hundred thousand of the ancestors who did not survive The Middle Passage; those that were thrown overboard and those that jumped, choosing, and preferring death.

They say that most hurricanes are formed around the coast of Afrika and follow the same path as the slave ships. Folktales are told about hurricanes being the energy source of our ancestors; stolen Afrikans, beaten and lost at sea; Souls of the Sea, who unleash their wrath annually. I am a lover of stories and of the griot, the original “ole G,” and so there is a part of me that delights in the particular story of the djeli. Yet, I ask myself, if the hurricane is the mythical avenger, then what of those who did not die en route? Where is their vengeance?

As I stand on the shore and look far far out to where the ocean kisses the sky; the water, it dances, and glistens, and rumbles, and the wind tickles my ears. Perhaps in the wind are the whispers of those who made it to shore; who walked bare foot and shackled in the sand, shuffling forward, further into bondage, leaving their spirit here at the shore. Spirits of the Wind, hallowed be their names; so lonely for Afrika, so lonely for family, lonely for the kora, the khalam, and the goje, the balafon, the ngoni; lonely for rhythms and tones, moods and melodies that only the Afrikan can create; lonely for freedom.

Here, right now, on this shore, in this moment, I am both familiar and estranged. The whispers of our ancestors through the sea air are still the same for us today. The elusive longing for what it means to be free. Like the ancestors, most of us are lonely and longing for home. Five hundred some odd years later, we are still foreign to this land that our people built. We are still lonely for our true culture, our people; and our single connection to the bigger picture and our place in the universe.

Here on the shore, looking out to where the water pushes back onto the sky, I become one with the Ancient Spirits of the Wind. I can feel them in my skin. I am the same as they, and they are the same as those before them, and we are one. I am reminded that ours is a most amazing story. A remarkable telling of endurance, overcoming, courage, fight, grief, revolution, determination, sorrow, survival, longing, dignity, victory, grace, jubilation, magic,…RISING!

*The history of Sanibel Island and Captiva Island features rich intrigue and adventure.  Historians believe that Sanibel and Captiva were formed as one island about six thousand years ago, as sediment that rose from the sea after being shaped by centuries of storm activity. Dating as far back as 2,500 years, the native Calusa Indians were the first-known residents of the island.  The Calusa skillfully transformed the waterways around the island into abundant riches of food and tools. Whelks, conchs, clams, oysters, and other seafood were used for food, and their empty shells were crafted into tools.  The Calusa proved to be skilled builders and craftsmen, perching their huts high atop shell mounds to provide protection from storm tides.  Some of their shell mounds, which were also used for ceremonial, ritual and burial sites, remain intact today. Famous explorer Juan Ponce de Leon is believed to have discovered Sanibel Island – which he named “Santa Isybella” after Queen Isabella — in 1513 while searching for his “Fountain of Youth.”  [Though we now know that you can’t have discovered a place that was already inhabited.] He and his Spanish seamen battled the hostile Calusas for years, and Ponce de Leon eventually suffered a fatal arrow attack at their hands in 1523, at which time he retreated to Cuba and died.
The Spanish were unsuccessful in establishing any kind of permanent settlement.  However, their infiltration introduced European disease and slavery to Sanibel, and overcome by yellow fever, tuberculosis, and measles, the Calusa population all but became extinct by the late 1700s.  You can read more about the Island’s history here: https://sanibel-captiva.org/sanibel-island-history-captiva-island-history/
I had the recent pleasure of visiting Sanibel Island with a dear friend of mine.  Knowing my love for the beach, she tolerated the sand and we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon and evening with our children on the beach. Our visit to the island inspired the above passage.

6 thoughts on “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky

  1. When I first read the post, I didn’t know this is what I would be reading. So wonderfully and beautifully written. It’s amazing what a quick getaway can inspire in us. 🥰🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for saying so. It is true indeed that a quick getaway can put us in touch with the very best parts of ourselves. I recently had a personality profile done and my personality profile says that I need a change of environment from time to time. It helps me thrive!


  2. What an excellent piece! It reads like poetry. This work speaks to how we can all channel into an inner spirit and remain connected to something larger than ourselves. We should always stay grounded yet push forth with a renewed energy fueled by the endurance and tenacity of our ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I visit Sanibel each time, and I have been visiting for 40+years, it never ceases to amaze me the vastness of God’s creation. What a wonderful place to reflect on His goodness and love He has for each one of us. May you also feel God’s presence on this special island and each day of your life. May you feel and see His blessings!


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