I just got back, it’s Friday night, and if you ask me, I think this was the most beautiful day of the year. It was 80 degrees…and it’s January! The beach air had a warmth and softness to it with just a faint, delicate breeze. I caught the day at its close; 4-6 pm, an amazingly clear sunset dipping below the crystal outline of Catalina.
My life has always been close to the sea. I grew up five miles from the chilly coast of Humboldt County, lived in Santa Cruz and Costa Mesa, and the activities that have oriented me to these locales are permanently etched into my persona. I have become very used to the visual and sensory treasures of the beach and ocean. Almost every one of my solo retreats throughout my life have ended up at the beach somewhere, and almost every time I’ve sensed God speak to me in some way or another on these trips. In fact, I’d say pretty every “big word” I’ve ever received from the Lord has been at the beach. The ocean connects me to God because of its grandeur, wildness, and mystery.
Around here, Corona Del Mar and Laguna are my favorite coastlines because of the rocky points and cliffs, and with only two hours and a hectic day, I opted this time for CDM’s “Cove” and the trailing beach walk to the southern point. As I mentioned earlier, the weather was gorgeous and every site was stunning. I walked down the long steps with the fading sun in view and was instantly enveloped by the majestic trees and rocky boulders. The smell is the thing that actually hit me first; flowers, plants, and salt air – fragrances that remind me of childhood and carefree days, which never cease to transport my heart to a peaceful, hopeful place.
As I hit the soft shore break and headed south, the sun began to dip in the sky, its golden hues diffusing and spreading across the landscape behind me. The little waves lapped the sand quietly, and I felt the cold dampness under my bare feet. Usually, I’m transfixed by the waves and the way they break on the shore, creating patterns in the sand and leaving behind sparkling trinkets from the sea, but not tonight; tonight my gaze was to the horizon and the darkening deep water against the fading light of day.
By the time I reached the jutting, jagged cliffs of the southern point, there was only a few moments of sun left above the waves. I sat on a rough rock and took in the sites. It was like a postcard. Faraway birds swirled in the painted sunset, gentle crashing waves set a slow rhythm, and I began really thinking about God’s faithfulness and all of the hope found there. Something about the beach sets me up to dream, gives me strength to trust again, and settles my soul even in the most uncertain of times. You’d think it might get old, but no – it never does!
I really felt refreshed by my time on the rock, and as the sun finally disappeared, I got up and started the trek back. Even with the retired sun, the air was still warm and streaks of yellow and pinks remained high above. I thought of all my questions and doubts, giving them to God, and was reminded of the Hebrew people in the wilderness; how could they distrust this miracle working deity when He obviously could do anything? How did they forget His power, love, and care so quickly? How could I? I’d seen God’s faithfulness and care, too, and a few miracles to say the least, how could I fall into fear and doubt so often? I’m repenting now as I write this. My walk back to the car was one of recommitment and renewed faith. Even with so many unknowns and obstacles ahead, I had a settled feeling in my spirit. I thanked God for the gift of His creation, the glimpses of His great love in our every day.