Shinnecock Spirit

Written By: Nancy  Walsh

Shinnecock Inlet is my place of solitude. I find myself there whenever I’m stressed, want a drive that’s not too far from my house, or just to reflect on my earlier times there.  A time when you could camp on the beach, falling asleep in a tent with the lullaby of the ocean and every once in a while the eeriness of the fog horn.  I’ve been going to Shinnecock inlet since high school.  When I take people there they often ask, “Why here?” “There’s no people, no music, just a bunch of quiet people fishing.”  My reply, “Exactly.” It was a simple time, when I would spend the weekend with my high school friends, reflecting on life and what we thought it was all about.  Little did we know back then, those were the good times. The times when we didn’t have to worry about war, terrorism, hate. We loved each others company and any differences weren’t ever noticed.  We were one. I often felt the closet to God there, especially at night.  Looking out at the vast sky, millions of stars, and the blackness that never seemed to end.  This was something much bigger and important than us.  It is beauty beyond what we could comprehend, especially back then.  As the years have gone by, I still go to reflect and share the wonder with people I love.

On one particular day a few years ago, I took a friend with me to have her experience the beauty and serenity of my magical, spiritual place.  I knew she was someone who could truly appreciate it.  We had lunch at Oakland’s and then proceeded to walk to the beach, picnic basket and beach blankets in hand.  We sat for a while and then decided to walk on the rocks leading to the jetty.  They are rocks I have climbed hundreds of times throughout my years, but little did I know, today was going to be a different experience.  As we ventured to the end past the jetty, I noticed small crawling creatures. Since I am obsessed with any type of animal, I decided to get a closer look.   As I got closer, close enough to almost touch the spidery creatures, I slipped into the inlet and found myself being battered by the waves.  They were relentless.   I attempted to climb back up, but to no avail, the algae covered rocks were just too slippery.  My friend could not reach for me or would have suffered a similar fate.  To make matters worse, I cannot swim.  I know that sounds crazy living on Long Island, but as a small child I grew up in Brooklyn with parents who were not fond of the water.  Now my friend is screaming for help.  Unfortunately that day, there wasn’t anyone else on the rocks.  I thought to myself, “This is it.”  “How can I die in a place that means so much to me, a place of peace and beautiful memories?”  Then all at once I began to feel calmness. I no longer felt the pain of the stabbing rocks as the water battered me into them.  I somehow knew it would be okay.  Then all at once as if to pull me out of my trance, a hand appeared and grabbed my hand.  It lifted me effortlessly right out of the water without my assistance.  Within seconds I found myself on the rocks and my friend was asking if I was okay.  I was beat up, but fine.  I asked what happened to the person who saved me.  We looked up and the rocks were just as vacant as before.  There were still no people, and there wasn’t any way possible for someone to pull me up and walk down the rocky path without us spotting them.  I asked my friend if she saw what the person looked like.  She said his face was fuzzy, no distinction, a little tan but no other distinctive characteristics. She didn’t even see him stand beside her and to this day will tell you, no one was there.   We sat for a while in awe of what had just taken place.  We both knew without speaking that this was a true miracle.  Sitting there I realized that this place I have such a connection to, had saved my life.  The spirit of Shinnecock was looking over me, and most likely has been from the time I discovered it.