Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Ocean of Stories: Forgetting and Remembering

On Tuesday we drove (Again! Life is full of driving) to Indian Shores. Indian Shores sits on a narrow peninsula and in a sense you feel like you are on an island.

Our resort told us that we were just steps from the beach. Just steps. What they failed to tell us was that those steps crossed the major highway that ran through Indian Shores. There was a crosswalk, but it was not my idea of steps away from the beach. This just proves that we can look at anything virtually on the web, but it will never show us exactly how something really is. I got over this quickly—a few steps was far closer to the ocean than I had been in years, so I quickly quenched the complaining.

If there are any men reading this post, please ignore me. You can skip these next few paragraphs and just move along. I know you really just don’t get this kind of thinking. But the ladies do. They know. They understand.

Here’s a real kicker and dilemma about the beach: putting on a bathing suit is very close to a nightmare. NO, it’s worse than a nightmare because nightmares are usually confined to your room and inside your head—my bathing suit clad body was not. I tried to avoid mirrors or windows, but it was inevitable.

I had a decision to make. I could go down to the beach and wallow and worry and whimper (which would lead to withdrawing) about what I looked like or I could go down to the beach and laugh and play and worship. Those were my options. Those were my choices. One or the other.

That first day back at the beach I realized I had grown-up. Forty-seven years of living certainly had its dividends. I forgot that I didn’t look like the cover of Shape magazine.

I forgot? No, I think I finally understood that I didn’t have to look like those covers—it’s not required. Not by my husband (who really does love ME.) and not by God (who loves ME even more). To look good in a bathing suit is not a prerequisite for doing what I was called to do. I tried to tell myself the same thing years ago, tried to convince myself of these exact truths, but I was just too young in many ways to understand. But that day, that beautiful glorious afternoon I donned my red and white bathing suit, put on my white cover-up, slipped my feet into a pair of flip-flops, put my red sunglasses on top of my head and threw my beach chair over my shoulder and walked those few steps to the beach.

I spent that first hour at the beach getting reacquainted with the ocean. I felt like she was an old friend I had not seen in a long time—there’s an old familiarity, but there’s this time of remembering and returning and readjusting. For a long time I just stood in the water and gave myself time to remember the ocean’s rhythms and her steadiness and her force. I had forgotten that even on the edge of the shore the waves could rock me, and the sand would slip out from under my feet. I had forgotten the sinking, the endless whish and roar. I had forgotten the foam and spray. I had forgotten so many things.

But the remembering. Oh, the remembering and then the immediate experiencing was nothing short of delicious. I even enjoyed the grit of the sand and the salt on the upper line of my top lip. I relished the raucous caw of the seagulls and the tropical scent of sunscreen. I was engulfed and dwarfed by the endless curving horizon and the vast bowl of the sky.   

Somewhere in the crevices of my heart I remembered the words of the psalmist and I truly, deeply understood them:
The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
 the seas have lifted up their voice;
 the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
 mightier than the breakers of the sea—
 the Lord on high is mighty.
   Psalm 93:3-4

1 comment:

TARSmith said...

I heard His ocean-voice last week. Thanks for reminding me of the psalm.