Beach Retreat


I often retreat to the sea. It’s necessary in my vocation to retreat… even when you think you don’t need it. It’s off season here at the beach. That means when I go on walks along the seashore, nobody else is there.

Every day at the beach is different. Something new washes up. It seems like it happens in groupings. Today it’s crab shells with yellow polka-dots. Yesterday it was white shells. The day before tiny crabs with blue polka-dots. And the first day, there was a huge abandoned buoy on the shore. Today it’s gone… washed back out to sea again.

The coast becomes holy when you are alone: the expanse of the ocean, the vastness of the sand, the power of the wind and waves. It has to be set apart in purpose. And the purpose of all this isn’t me…or you. The purpose is from God’s limitless imagination.

I might become lost in the expanse, but I have feet to cause me to look down. No matter where I pause to look, there is beauty and interest. Ants. Seaweed. Sand that is rippled. Plants holding on in the wind. Birds fishing and scavenging. Nothing seems wasted or ignored.

The shells are most interesting to me. New shells are bright and shiny, colored, white, or black. Nothing is wasted; most have a tiny hole in them where a predator invaded and made a meal. The shell is completely cleaned by scavengers and the sea. Nothing is wasted. The shells become homes for new animals, new plants, or just break down into minerals to be used again in the ocean. Shiny become dull. Solid shells become brittle. Thick shells become weathered and riddled with tiny holes. Many become broken only to expose inner spirals and structural details previously hidden. But there is great beauty in these details. And the beauty isn’t there for me…or you. It reveals who God is. His glory. “The very rocks would cry out!”

There is a lot to learn on retreat at the beach. How to live our material lives. How to see God. How to treat one another.

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