Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grand finale

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea...

You and I, you and I, oh, how happy we'll be!

Summer is officially over in our house with the start of school today. But we ended it with a bang! Fred suddenly decided we should all go to the shore for one night. We'd thought we wouldn't be able to take our shore trip at all this year with Fred being in school, but he surprised us. Amazingly, we even found a vacancy, not at our usual spot at such late notice, but one not far down the street.

As we crossed the bridge over the bay to our island getaway, the girls screamed with excitement. They rolled down the windows to sniff the sea air. We stopped for lunch where we always go, and the girls were even more thrilled. They like to do everything just the same as we have done every year since they were babies. They don't want to vary the routine one bit. I picture them as women with their own children stopping at the same restaurant on their way to the beach. We drove to find our motel and Fred checked us in and then came out with another surprise. He booked two night instead of one!

By coincidence, good friends of ours were heading to the shore at the very same time for a day trip. We played together with them in the sun and sand. The day was hot and humid, unlike our usual trip in September, so we spent more time in the water, which was warm as a bath. The girls found all kinds of sea creatures and dug big holes. Arielle, older every year, ventures further and further into the surf. Not being a swimmer, the ocean is scary to me. But Fred was with her, so I shouldn't have been nervous. Liana still stays with me. We hold hands and jump the smaller waves. But they are powerful this day, nearly knocking us down.

We ate a delicious seafood dinner with our friends before they headed off late that evening. Sandy, sticky girls had showers and were quickly asleep. We headed out early to the beach again the next day. The Storm Tracker truck from our local news station was the first sign that something had changed. The sunlight still glittered brightly across the ocean, but the water was cold and the waves pounded in. The ocean was churning, ominous, and the wind was sharp. Liana didn't want to go in the water at all. Hurricane Bill was out in the Atlantic, coming closer.

Fred and Arielle let the waves beat them up again. Lifeguards were watching closely, and I was too. I couldn't relax with a book like usual. All that talk about rip currents ran through my mind. Later, all four of us took a peaceful walk at the water's edge far down the coastline. Then my heart settled like it always does at the shore. Amidst the roar of the waves drowning out every noise except for the laugh of the gulls, it seemed we were alone with God. The ocean beckons to me, despite my fear of it. I love being here with my family. I asked the girls, "Where would you rather be?" They said, "Nowhere!" Then they said, "Grandma's?"

Oh, the great mountains where my mother lives calls to us too. In both these places, God seems closer. Maybe it's the big-ness, the grandeur and the power of that huge ocean and those magnificent mountains. The details of daily life become trivial. We contemplate our small-ness in the universe and stand in awe of creation.

"Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great...may the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will sing praises to my God while I have being." (Psalm 104)

We woke Saturday morning to rain and an even louder crashing of the waves. The only people in the water were the surfers. As we gazed across the sand to say good-bye to the ocean, we were treated to a giant rainbow, one leg in the sea, and the other crossing the island to the west, out of sight. Time to go back home. Summer is over.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing like the shore to rejuvenate and remind us how small we are in the world, yet having such a wonderful time with our children reminds us how important these singular, ritual moments are to our families.

Deb said...

You said it better than I did!

cmf said...

It looks like you had fun!