Last week the body of an adolescent humpback whale washed into the ocean pool at Newport beach. It was an amazing event to see such a creature up close. I went down to the beach in the evening as the sun was setting and a full moon rising and the sky was putting on a brilliant but melancholy display to mourn the whale.
I know he was dead but you could feel this mighty presence there. It was almost as though the passage between the two worlds was so diaphanous that you hardly noticed that this massive corpse represented an end and not just a continuation of something.
It was a strange atmosphere and while 'celebration' is not quite the word... nor is 'grief'... and definitely not 'apathy'.
With my children in a Catholic school I am regularly pressed to define my idea of God and mostly I find that difficult... but I think God was there, that night, last week.
The next day, the whale had to be cut up and buried as the currents were not favourable enough to take his body out to sea. As the workers performed this grisly task, a whale appeared off the beach, breaching and making him/ herself visible to all present. I can only imagine that the whale was there to farewell a friend, or son, or brother and I wonder what grief does to a whale.
I have been given a commission to do a painting with ocean and sky... It is a portrait layout which is not natural to me with landscapes so I have procrastinated for some time now. This morning I worked together some of the photos I took at the beach on the night of the whale and this is what I came up with... I now have my reference for the new painting.... Thanks to my encounter with an adolescent ghost.