My Soul Settles Here

My Soul Settles Here

“The sea is emotion incarnate.  It loves, hates, and weeps.  It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles.  No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.” (Christopher Paolini)

The beach is many things to me.

It’s an escape.  The place where my family disconnects and reconnects for awhile.

It’s a refuge.  The place where my thoughts quiet and my worries cease.

It’s a retreat.  The place where God’s voice goes from a whisper to a roar.

It’s a haven.  The place where the sea lulls my soul into a serene stillness, leading me to tell my husband on every trip, “I love the beach because my soul settles here.”

Of course the beach hasn’t always produced meditative effects.  As a child, my first visit to the ocean invoked awe.  As I stood on the sand, I felt tiny.  I was in awe of the ocean’s vastness.  As I moved closer to the white foam, I felt scared.  I was in awe of the ocean’s power.  As the sand moved beneath my feet, causing me to lose my balance, I felt intrigued.  I was in awe of the ocean’s constant movement.  Even as a small child, I recognized the magic of the sea.  I fell under its spell, longing to return when that first trip came to an end.

As a teenager, the ocean’s beauty and lure were underappreciated and often unnoticed.  My teenage world lacked room for a reflective recognition of God’s natural creations.  My self-focused, surface level existence during those adolescent years shifted my focus away from the sea and to the seductive powers of other types of beach scenery.  As a teenager, the beach was the place where I could get a great tan and check out hot guys.  It was about bikinis and boys, Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil and the perfect pair of shades.  It was about walking at least 50 feet in front of my parents, testing my independence and spreading my wings for a bit.  It was about exhilarating rides at the pavilion, ski ball in the game rooms, and bungee jumping from sky-high platforms.  It was all loud music and cruisin’ the main strip, neon lights and flirting.  Yes, during my teenage years, the ocean faded into the background of the beach’s social scenery.

As an adult, the magic returned.  Many special things have happened for me at the beach.  Mike proposed to me there after a moonlit walk.  Just as the chorus to one of our favorite Tim McGraw songs began, he stopped singing and began talking.  As I tried to wrap my mind around his words, he brought out a tiny, white box.  With the moon above us, the breeze around us, and the ocean in front of us, I said yes to the man God had placed in my life a year before. 

Following my tearful, whispered “yes,” he placed a beautiful ring on my finger.  As Mike held me in his arms, my eyes were drawn away from the ring to the wonder of God’s creation.  The moon’s light danced over the ocean’s surface, creating silver ribbons of light.  Clouds moved across the night’s sky in a game of hide-and-seek with the moon.  The rhythm of the ocean’s waves crashing on the shore matched the beating of my heart.  A warm breeze blew, billowing the blanket at our feet.  In that moment, I was once again reminded of the greatness of our God.  His hand set all of nature into motion.

The same hand lifted me up when I stumbled.  The same hand redirected my path when I went astray.  Physically, I still felt small compared to the vastness of the ocean and sand, yet an adult perspective helped me realize my spiritual significance as a creation of God.  If I can see the beauty and glory in the things of His world, then He sees the beauty in me.  Every question about my self-worth washed away, every mistake and misstep dissolved beneath the waves of God’s pure love.  Just as each imprint on the sand is wiped clean by the waves coming onto the shore, I was made anew in the eyes of Christ when I rededicated my life to Him.

I am a beautiful creation of God. He loves my inquisitive mind; He values my strong personality; He glories in my compassionate nature.  As Mike and I walked down the beach, I looked behind us.  The sand was smooth except for the faint impression of our footsteps.  As we walked forward, on a new path designed by God, I knew we didn’t walk alone.  Immanuel, God with us.

I sought God’s presence again a few years later.  I retreated to the beach after my mom and dad passed away.  Watching them each die slowly from the same cancer, just two short years apart, broke me.  Thin, ragged threads held me together mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  I knew the fragility of those threads, realized how close I was to falling apart, so I sought refuge in the place where God’s voice never has to compete with the noise of life to reach my soul.  I went to the beach.

As I watched the sun rise each morning, my soul settled.

As I listened to the sound of the waves on the shore, my soul settled.

As I watched dolphins arch up and out of the water, my soul settled.

As I ran for miles along the sandy shore, my soul settled.

As I watched the sun’s light dance off the water’s surface, my soul settled.

As I looked out to the horizon, to the place where Heaven meets Earth, my soul settled.

As I inhaled the sea-scented air, my soul settled.

I began to heal during those trips to the beach.  I relinquished my pain to God, to His sea, letting each wave take a little more and a little more of my grief, letting it settle slowly and silently to the bottom of the ocean’s depths.

Now I watch my children fall under the spell of the sea.  As soon as their feet touch the sand, they’re skipping.  They run without abandon to the water’s edge where they watch the waves lap at their feet.  My son plunges in after a few minutes, jumping each swell just as it breaks into a white, bubbling foam.  My daughter plays chase with the waves, running with a shriek away from the reaching arms of the sea.  When they tire, they begin to explore the beach, gathering treasures which are of no more use to the ocean, deposited quietly on the sand by the tide.  They bring me each shell, holding it out with the excitement of one who’s discovered gold.  As I watch them run freely, the wind carries their laughter back to me, and in that moment, the warmth which comes from my joy is greater than the sun’s.

Yes, my soul settles at the beach.  We all have that special place.  A place where we can breath.  A place where our burdens are lifted, even if it’s just for a bit.  A place where God’s presence is tangible.  A place where we can let go and let God.


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