I vacationed in St. Augustine Florida last week. I dedicated one day to sit on the beach and set up my umbrella and chairs. The beach is a place where I feel the greatness of God. Standing on the beach, I become a tiny grain of sand. I feel that God is in control and I am like the flower that neither toils nor spins (Luke 12:24). I need to be reminded of this because I so often sorrow over the things that are out of my control. I wade out, over waist deep and watch for the waves — catching them before they crest — jumping — safely floating over and watching for the next one. Sometimes, I was watching the shore and the wave slapped me in the back of the head — salty water finding its way behind my sunglasses and stinging my eyes. So much like life — the things I sorrow over with bitter salty tears. I give up and walk back to shore. The umbrella oasis is abandoned for lunch. God will still be here when I get back.
I return later and cower under the umbrella oasis — journal in hand — alone — intending to write the wonders of spiritual wave watching. My eyes wander. ‘Why do people wear what they wear on the beach?’, I wonder to myself. I open my journal and feel the coolness of the paper. My pen to the paper and… I am distracted — four ladies chattering on their blankets near by — smoking and sipping margaritas from the poolside Tiki Bar. They tell each other their stories — I try not to listen. They get up for another swim in the ocean. My pen to the paper again and…. I think the family to my left is French. They call out to their little daughter who wants to run to the ocean and is half way there. I studied French years ago and I try to hear what they are saying. The daughter is scooped up and brought back to their blanket. My pen to the paper again and…. There is this woman covered head to toe in fabric — long sleeved shirt, leggings, hat, scarf, and sneakers — obviously sensitive to the sun but unable to resist the beach. She walks to the life guard stand and gestures out to the ocean. The life guard speaks into his phone and a truck arrives with two more life guards. Two helicopters make sweeps up and down the coast two or three times. I never find out exactly what happened. My pen to the paper again and ….. The four ladies come back from the water and stretch out once more — chattering. One is extolling the benefits of the diet meal delivery plan she is on — it cost less per month than the grocery store. I don’t know her so I don’t know if it is working but she is enthusiastic. They get up and begin packing their things. My pen to the paper again and.… One of the ladies walks near to me and says, “You are writing in a journal. I write in one too, now, ever since I had a near death experience in January.” Curious now and to encourage more, I respond, “Yes, and this is a wonderful place to write.” She continued moving to keep up with her friends, saying to me, “Oh, I will be back out here tomorrow.” The assumption that perhaps she would tell me more tomorrow. I didn’t have a chance to tell her I was leaving in the morning to go home.
I noticed then that many more people had left. Just as the solitude I’d sought was at hand — I heard thunder and saw the threatening clouds. I closed my journal and began to pack away my umbrella oasis. I was no longer thinking about what people were wearing on the beach, or, diets. A bit miffed at myself for my earlier superficiality; I was wondering about the rest of that story.