Last year, hurricane season was particularly ugly to the Southeastern coast. For the first time in her 20 years of living on the beach of St. Simon’s Island, our beloved Gammy begrudgingly relocated to my in-laws to wait out the worst of the storm. It was a long week. While she was extremely comfortable, she worried about the state of her home, and her island.
When the waters of Irma receded there was no damage that was beyond repair. Soggy for a while, her condo development slowly returned to normal. However, East Beach had changed.
They kept warning me… “The beach is so, different…”
In the past ten years St. Simon’s has become a special place for me, a place for peace and renewal. The biggest change I had seen was the number of people (too many). I was not prepared.
When we walked the waves on our first day there, I noticed that the walkway from the boardwalk to the water was completely filled with sand… sand to the railings. And I could not run the full mile toward the pier. The water met me at the rocks and I could go no further. However, when we walked at the water, it did not feel that different.
Later, when we returned in the afternoon I was struck. We stood where the water had been and it felt like a miles sand stretched before us… keeping us from the waves. As I peered even further out into the water, you could see that people were standing in waist deep water. Not what we were accustomed to.
This was not my beach.
I cannot lie, I was more than disappointed. For a little while, I was distraught. It seems so silly now, but when a place becomes familiar, and you spend most of your life avoiding “new,” I was not happy to be in “new” place.
But I rallied. In the din of dinner conversations, kids, and evening television I thought more about the fact that the tide was merely out. So I adapted. I looked up the tide schedule.
High tide would be at 7:00 AM.
So by 6:45 AM we were trekking across the sand to stake our claim on the closest sandbar.
And magic happened.
I found my sea. I rediscovered the place I spend the rest of the year waiting to find. The sun still glistens on the water and the waves speak to me. A physical metamorphosis occurs with each moment my feet and hands dig in the sand. We explored; the shifting margins between land and abyss, longer is some areas, dwarfed in others. We discovered that these shifts brought about new residents; wildlife that we spent hours chasing and observing.
And I heard whispers…. prompts of a metaphor that I long to understand.
How easily I found joy in adapting to the subtle shifting landscape of a beach that has slowly become mine in our 11 year relationship.
And yet when I think of the relationship that brought me here, that afforded me this space I never knew I needed, those shifts in the landscape arise like seemingly unmovable mountains and waves meant to drown me, not bring me bliss. I greet our shifting margins with defenses of anxiety and fear.
How different might my life be if I allowed myself to greet a different landscape with expectation, curiosity, and hope? What magic would happen if I believed that my Creator could be found in the new and unexpected instead of forcing my body, my beliefs, my schedule, hopes and dreams into a geography of 10 years ago?
“Any landscape is a condition of the spirit.” Henri Frederic Amiel
I long for this place, physically and emotionally. The place where I truly am the best version of myself. This place where I look around aand live what I believe– that our lives are in constant motion– and each moment gives us glimpses of and brings us closer to our eternal home.
May we relish changing margins and look for the face of our Savior in whatever shifting sands we meet.
“We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” 2 Corinthians 5: 5 The Message