The Siren Call of Never Never Land
Jul 28, 2016
Nantucket—My Happy, Healthy, Healing Place
I have found my Never Never Land and its name is Nantucket—a remote island once occupied by Native Americans, then claimed by Englishmen, home to pirates on occasion as well as to whaling captains who captured the imagine of Herman Melville. In many ways, it resembles the Never Never Land of J. M. Barrie’s imagination. And like Peter Pan, I can imagine never going home—except for brief escapes from the cold winters.
But if Nantucket is my soul’s home, Corpus Christi is my heart’s home—the place where I met Lev and reared our children, where I have a host of friends of more than 50 years, a daughter and granddaughters. The place where my memories are. I reluctantly choose to be Wendy, not Peter. The days and weeks have sped past, and so much on my to-do list remains undone. Emails are unopened, social media almost ignored, tv never touched, blogs unwritten. I’ve been here 42 days, and it seems like I arrived day before yesterday. And in 20 days I will leave Never Never Land and return to the real world.
My daughter calls this “mom’s happy place,” and indeed I am at my happiest here (except for the times when I am surrounded by children and grandchildren). This is also my healthy place, where I walk instead of drive, where I eat lots of fish and fresh vegetables and almost no carbs or red meat, where I relax and de-stress completely. I suspect that I am my nicest self here, for yesterday and tomorrow hardly exist and the rest of the world is very far away. Our South Texas expression mañana fits well here.
Nantucket is also my healing place. When I came in 2013, after a Maine cruise, I had never before been so alone so far from anyone I knew. I was afraid to stay more than four days, for fear of being miserable. Instead, I found peace and joy for the first time since Lev’s death four years earlier. I learned the value of solitude and reflection. And I resolved to go home and re-purpose my life. The next year I came for about 18 days and wrote the first draft of my book, RECLAIMING JOY: A PRIMER FOR WIDOWS. In so doing, I finally processed my grief. Last year I came twice for two weeks each time and knew that I wanted to spend my summers here. Nantucket continues to change me. Whether in the quiet of worship in an historic, white, steepled church or surrounded by the work of the Creator in the flowers and beaches and sea, my soul is nourished.
I sympathize with the Apostle Peter, who wanted to stay on the mountaintop with Jesus.* But Jesus said “no” and led his disciples down the mountain into the crowds. Never Never Land is for respite and renewal, not for permanent withdrawal. So I shall be Wendy, not Peter Pan; and I shall go home. But—God willing—I’ll be back next summer!
I would wish for such a time and place for all who need to rest. I know that I am privileged to have found this place and to be able to return summer after summer. I am very thankful.
Photos: Top, aerial view of Nantucket at sunrise; middle, inside First Congregational Church after a picnic; bottom, Nantucket Town from the wharf at dusk.
* Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9: 2-13, Luke 9:28-36