When I went to the beach in June, I was excited about the fact that it was a little stormy. There is something about that power of the elements working together, of the waters below and the waters above and the way they come together that makes me feel as though I am witnessing a part of creation over and over again. And it also didn't hurt that there were very few people on the beaches to interrupt my time with God. I never got to see any dolphins this time, but that's okay. They'll still be there and I'll be back!
When it started to storm on us, I was the last one to retreat. I laid on the sand with my beach towel snuggie protecting me from the "sand blasting" and letting the rain pour down on me. All I could hear was the wind and the waves. I couldn't see anyone or anything else. I wasn't distracted by reading or music or tv or responsibility or anything except that glorious moment. Even my retreat was half-hearted. And it was only a partial retreat. I slipped into the hot tub that was just about body temperature (so not really hot at all) and I floated there on my back for several hours. I felt the rain on my face and listened to the water in my ears and the roar of the waves on the sand just a few hundred yards away. I wasn't entirely at peace, but I was in the presence of God.
I think one of the things I love so much about the beach is that it is constantly moving and changing. Not necessarily for better or worse. Not usually in ways that are readily apparent. If only faced with ocean and sand, it's very hard to note immediate change between one wave and another. In many cases it only becomes apparent over time, or with the help of some "extra" something like a toy or a shell or some sort of marker. But even when we can't see the change, we know it's happening. And it's not always what we would expect. It's not always the ocean slowly taking the beach away bit by bit. Sometimes it's one area being changed more than another. Sometimes something is added to the beach. It's not better or worse. It's simply different.
I look forward to going back to the beach. I look forward to being reminded of these changes. I look forward to feeling it happen right under my feet, literally all around me. Because in some small way, I often feel myself changing along with it.
The beach certainly isn't the only place changes are constantly happening, but for some reason it is the place I notice them the most. I am excited to see what the change of seasons will bring for me, for my family, for our house, for our neighborhood, for our town, for our state, for our country, and for our world. I look forward to feeling change even when I can't see it. I hope I can remember (and perhaps continue to remind others) that change is not always better or worse. Sometimes it is simply different. And no matter what, God is in it all.