Last Saturday my daughters, granddaughter and I flew to Florida to celebrate my youngest daughter’s 25th birthday. Wow! My youngest daughter is 25! What happened to the time? How did the years sneak by so quickly? What am I going to be when I grow up? (I don’t know if we ever stop asking that question.)
We settled into our house and gathered a few groceries, determined to rest and unwind. My granddaughter found resting and unwinding a bit more difficult which also made it more difficult for us to relax. She was up at 5 a.m. the first morning and 6 a.m. the second morning. But the third day she settled into a new rhythm and found her particular cadence. She had a restful cheerfulness about her that was beautiful to behold.
In the midst of all of this I found an unrest building in my spirit. Agitation mounted for no particular reason and I needed rest; not rest for my body but rest for my soul. I suggested a drive to the beach.
Arriving at the nearly empty beach with miles of crystal white sand spreading out in both directions, I began to walk. As I walked, I listened to the beach. I heard the waves washing on the shore, birds squawking noisily, wind blowing over the water, quiet conversations of other beach goers, the soft pad of the runner making her way down the beach, the labored breathing of another runner.
I smelled the beach. The beach has a particular smell that is difficult to describe. It is the water, sand, salt and wind all swirled together. Mix in food, sunscreen and fishiness and you have the beach. I breathed it in. Deep, cleansing breaths that slowly began to still the agitation.
I felt the beach. Fine sand, pounded smooth by the waves felt as solid as concrete under me. The water, a warm 85 degrees, washed over my feet at varying intervals. Shells along the way made me cautious about stepping down too carelessly lest I hit a broken edge. The wind blew across my skin cooling it as quickly as the sun heated it. Sun shining on my back felt warm and tingly. I felt the back of my legs begin to color as the sun beat upon them. The salt of the water created a fine layer of sediment on exposed skin, stinging sensitive areas around my eyes and on my face.
I saw the beach. The water was not as clear as usual. Red tide colored it a grayish-green-red color. It looked angry but it didn’t feel angry. As I watched the waves come in and I thought about red tide and all the marine life that died as a result, I prayed. I thanked God for the water and what it provides for us. I asked God to heal the water and to forgive us for the way we recklessly misuse the good things God has given. I looked at the sky stretching endlessly along the horizon and marveled at the clear blue color, the purity of the white clouds dotting the sky.
I tasted the beach. The salt of the water flavored the sand with its pungent saltiness. Gritty sand, with even the best intentions, ends up on my hands and face. Eventually it sneaks into my mouth. Fine particles of sand settle into the ridges of my teeth grating and grinding with every word spoken.
As I rejoined the others sitting in the sand, peace had been restored. I needed to meet God in this place. I needed to let him wash away my concerns; I need to hear him in the wind and see him in the ocean waves. I needed to be reminded of the immensity of who he is and that he sees me. Psalm 139:9-10 remind me that there is nowhere I can go that he is not. It says, “If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.”
As I experienced the beach with all five of my senses I intentionally sealed those experiences in my mind. Now, even when I am at home in Indiana surrounded by woods and it is 56 degrees and cloudy, I can “go to the beach.” This experience is sealed in my mind, waiting to be retrieved when the chaos becomes too much.
What about you? Where do you go? What experiences have you sealed away in your mind to be revisited when necessary? Unfortunately for many of us, we have negative experiences sealed away that we revisit too many times. I will write about that next time, but for now I want to help you create a positive memory bank.
Think about the types of activity that bring you peace. Is it walking, listening to the burble of a stream, the rush of wind, the rustle of leaves in the wind? Do you feel energized when you have a few minutes alone with quiet music? Is it focus on a particular phrase of scripture or a breath prayer?
I would like to lead you through a simple exercise designed to quiet your mind, body and soul. It takes just a few minutes but the benefit will last for hours. We will use one phrase from Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Sit in a relaxed position with your feet on the floor and your hands resting loosely in your lap. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and just listen. What do you hear? Acknowledge the sounds around you and then let them go. Begin by slowly repeating the whole phrase…
Be still and know that I am God.
Wait a few seconds to listen and let that sink in.
Be still and know that I AM.
Be still and know that I.
Be still and know.
What did you hear? What does the Father want to tell you about himself or reveal about you? My prayer is that you will meet God our Father in a powerful, redemptive way and that you will come away from these few minutes with a greater sense of peace and well being. As I participated in this as I write I sensed God saying he wants me to just BE and allow him to be GOD. He’s really good at it. What is he saying to you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
Love this. Can’t wait for the next one! And cutie pic 😉
I liked the quiet moments with God. I am looking forward to January when we came walk in the sand and hear those notices and and smell the Ocean.
I am too!
Thank you for sharing what God puts on your heart. I find I wait with anticipation for your next posting. We studying in Sunday school the importance of BEING STILL. Your description of finding quietness on the beach was well stated. I felt like I was there with you experiencing the calm and quiet one can find.
What a beautiful post! God gave us 5 senses for a reason…to experience his creation more completely…bless you and see you tonight!