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Summer 2012

Well, after ten days at the beach, I think I’ve finally gotten all the sand out of my shoes. We had a wonderful vacation at Sunset Beach this year, and I have come home rested, relaxed and ready for a full summer. As always, I am grateful for your loving support as you encourage my family and me to take time for rest. I am grateful to the rest of the staff, who made hospital visits, paid bills, cleaned out the kitchen and generally kept the ministries around here running smoothly. One of the many things that a vacation does for me is remind me that I am not indispensable. Thank goodness.

Being on vacation, especially in a place as beautiful as Sunset Beach, also gives me an opportunity to commune with God and God’s creation in ways that are outside of the ordinary for me. The house that we stay in overlooks a marsh, and we can sit on the deck and see all sorts of amazing wildlife: storks and gulls, finches and bats, and all sorts of herons—great blue and little blue, great white and green-backed. We’ve seen deer and foxes and even an otter. We watch fish jump and crabs crawl. We watch the water in the marsh rise and fall with the tides. It is a soothing and happy place, where God sets the rhythm and we simply respond.

From the deck of our house we watched the sunset every night. This year we had an unusual treat. One evening, my sister-in-law rigged up a viewer with binoculars and a cardboard box so that we could watch the Venus transit. Once every 105 years, Venus crosses between Earth and the sun. (It actually happens twice in eight years, and then it doesn’t happen again for 105 years.) It was an amazing gift to see it for ourselves.

Walking on the beach one morning, I was feeling disappointed in the weather. It was cloudy and the wind was coming from the wrong direction, which meant it wouldn’t be a great beach day. But before I could get too upset about it, I looked out and saw four dolphins swimming against the current. If the wind had been blowing in the “right” direction, the waves would have been too high and I would have missed them. As it was, though, the clouds and the wind gave me a little gift. Lesson learned.

Each day as we sat on the beach, I marveled at the many different ways that people were playing. Some were building intricate sand castles. Some were boogie boarding and surfing. Others (like my daughter) were catching minnows. Some (like my son) were throwing themselves wholeheartedly at the waves for hours at a time. No one was trying to control the ocean. No one owned it. No one could tame it. Everyone simply responded to it, enjoyed it, played with it. God set the rhythm, and we responded.

This summer I’m helping to teach the second grade Sunday School class. Our lesson for Sunday was about God’s good creation. We read the story of Genesis 1, when God invited human beings to be stewards of creation. To me, our calling is not to use, dominate, control and consume creation for our own gain. Our calling is to tend, to care, to enjoy, to name, to watch, to wonder and be amazed by all that God has created. Being at the beach reminded me of the power and beauty of God’ creation. May all of us find ways to wonder and be amazed at the world in which God has placed us.