Kristiana and I did a whole lot of walking on Sunset Beach two weeks ago. And I took a whole lot of photos on our walks and sits and various visits to the beach. As I went through the photos, I noticed a variety of levels and kinds of strength in the photos.
There were the manmade structures, like the cabana above. Staked into the ground at all four corners with thin cables and spikes, it was rather vulnerable to wind and water.
One night, we watched as a similar cabana dealt with the incoming tide. Abandoned by its owners or renters, the cabana covered several chairs, folded umbrellas, body boards and other paraphrenalia. Along with some strangers passing by, I moved all the things under the cabana farther up onto the beach so that they wouldn't get pulled out into the water as the tide rolled in. We left the beach as the water was lapping against all four stakes. I wanted to stick around and see how long the stakes would hold. The cabana was gone in the morning.
I am that cabana many days. Covering a multitude of other people's stuff, needs, and demands. Often forgotten, abandoned, and left to hold my own when life's waters, be they still or rough, lap around my feet and around my soul. Often I need help, sometimes from complete strangers, in keeping my stuff, my heart, and my soul safe from harm.
Many high tides of fear, many hurricanes of loneliness later, I'm still standing. Sometimes I say things like, "I have no idea how I'm still standing or why." But I know that it is only by God's grace, the love of friends, and a steadfast refusal to loosen my grip on hope that I'm still here.
The strength of sand is baffling to me. Its properties are equally confounding. It can hold a castle in place, but blow into my eyes with little provocation. It packs together when damp, but moves loosely when dry. It brings me joy when trampled underfoot in the sunshine, but makes me groan when crunched between my teeth. It is washed out to see during violent storms, but nearly impossible to remove from the scalp between my dreadlocs.
Do you see the rabbit? What strength it displayed when sitting still while we took photos, and what speed it displayed when we moved closer to get a clearer shot.
I was most impressed by the strength of the plant life at Sunset Beach. The most carefully tended garden patches and the finest grasses, the most delicate blossoms and the thickest bushes - they send their roots deep, their leaves high, and their faces to the sky. The sand blew. The waves crashed. And there they stood. They waved. They wavered. But they didn't move.
When I grow up, I want to have roots as deep and shoots as strong as those plants.
Feathers stuck in the sand. Strength. Simplicity. Beauty. Stillness. Presence.
A fragile reminder of a fleeting life, a life in motion.