Look What I Found at the Beach!
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
It’s June and officially Summer so I assume many of you will be spending some time at The Beach! Did you know that time by the Sea can restore your soul? Of course you do, that’s why you’re going
This lucky gal just returned from a week at the seaside and can attest to the fact that there is nothing quite like ocean waves, shells on the shore, and sand between your toes. Early mornings looking out at the vast expanse of emptiness (not really empty) brings me Calm, Serenity and a sense of God’s Presence unlike any other place.
What I take away from such focused and rare experiences is truly a GIFT.
Not long after I was born, Mama turned to one of her favorite authors – Anne Morrow Lindbergh – for some inspiration on life through a brand new book “Gift from the Sea.” I am so grateful she gave me a copy when I was a young girl. No surprise that this book is now a classic (and so am I)! If you haven’t yet read it, do yourself a favor and go buy a copy. Right now.
This busy mother of five kids in mid-century America, married to the world’s most famous aviator (Charles Lindbergh, you may have heard of him), echoed many of my own thoughts as summer begins: “My life in Connecticut, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well.” (*Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “Gift from the Sea”)
I know your life is cluttered with Important Things, not just superfluous stuff. Mine too. But it is so crucial to take time periodically to pull away from all that, to unplug, and just sit beside the ocean waves and drink in the Silence of God’s goodness and restoration.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Jesus in Matthew 11.28-30 MSG
Last week as I wandered along the shore and gathered shells, each one seemed to have a name – someone for whom I am praying. A few were perfectly white and symmetrically shaped, obviously young and new. Others were chipped and weathered, witness to many storms already but nonetheless full of beauty. I placed them in a small pile at my feet as I read my prayer book and witnessed the rising Sun. God knows them all – us all – even though what I have gathered here, both in my hands and all the people in my life, are just a fraction of His Beloved.
Though I am not wholly alone during this beach visit (I am sharing the experience with 3 loved ones) I can identify with Lindbergh who chronicled the benefits of her sojourn by the Sea “There are not too many activities or things or people, and each one, I find, is significant, set apart in the frame of sufficient time and space. Here there is time; time to be quiet; time to work without pressure; time to think; time to watch the heron, watching with frozen patience for his prey. Time to look at the stars or to study a shell; time to see friends, to gossip, to laugh, to talk. Time even, not to talk.” (*AML)
When you go to the Beach this summer I hope you, too, will take some time “not to talk” or text or listen to anything other than the still small Voice of the God who loves you more than you can even imagine. After all, He created all this beauty just for us!
June is here. Summer has begun. Mine already looks full with times scheduled for family visits, professional meetings, adventurous recreation and a huge writing project. Fact is, I’m a bit scared. I want so much to do it all and do it well, but I know that I have limits. My prayer is that I can fulfill what is the most important and focus well when I am with people, and work well when I am not.
What is your prayer for the summer?
Many years ago Anne Morrow Lindbergh stated hers: “I want first of all to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out my obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact, to live ‘in grace’ as much of the time as possible. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.” (*AML)
“Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid.” (*AML)
Why not pick up a shell and write on it the gift from the sea you received this summer? Place it on your desk or kitchen window sill or home altar so you can always remember those whispers from that still small Voice. The ones that made life clear back in the summer of 2015…
under the mercy, Cindy
*excerpted from Anne Morrow Lindbergh in “Gift from the Sea” (1955)