On Saturday morning, my daughter and I circle down the stairs and out the sliding door, past the pool, the white gate creaking on its hinges as we swing it open.
My bag, hangs, heavy on my arm, because I filled it with my Bible study and two of the books I’ve been reading. A water bottle and a couple of snacks. My Kindle Fire, new to me, my anniversary gift. Sunscreen and a towel. My hat, bought especially for our beach vacation. Because I love hats, but seldom wear them, and I wanted a hat for the beach.
Prepared. That’s me. Take everything but the kitchen sink. I’m worse now, than when I was packing diaper bags.
My daughter helps me, and we half-drag, half-carry a blue chair along, bumping it down the boardwalk toward the beach.
She carries her kickboard. The one now leaning in a corner against the turquoise blue wall of her room.
Everyone else is at various other activities.
We two, we sink into the sand and we set down the chair and we settle in. We find a spot in between the rise of the dune and the waves rolling onto the shore. Close enough to savor the surf, but out of the water’s reach.
I gaze across the expanse of awesome ocean.
My daughter, she begins to dig and create in the sand and fill her soul because creating energizes her and is part of who she is. She forms the cutest sand sea turtles, heading down the beach to the ocean edge. And then she adds a nest behind them. Hatchlings, crawling out, new life headed for their home. Just darling.
My photos don’t begin to do them justice. I can’t seem to capture them at all the way I want. The turtle creations want to blend in the sand. Perhaps, they know if they stood out too much, something will snatch them up before they safely reached the waters edge.
I pull out my books and my Bible study and bask in the perfect morning. Sunshine and a whispering breeze silkily caressing our cheeks. Warm and lovely, yet cool enough, the lightweight sweatshirt I’d shrugged into, is just right.
We hang out there, the two of us.
We start to talk and chatter as only girls can do. I move from my chair and sit on the sand, toes dug in deep. I curl my fingers in the sand and sift it through my fingers. She sits beside me and we look out over the horizon.
Suddenly, there they are.
At first we’re not sure. But, yes.
Dolphins swimming parallel between the shore and the horizon. They dip in and below and then their dorsal fins break again, above the waves.
We catch our breath. We watch with joy and awe and excitement.
They keep coming.
In groups of three or four or six.
Swimming and dipping and moving effortlessly.
I sit there transfixed and the tears spring and slide, unbidden, down my cheeks. I can’t explain my emotions to my daughter. Just the immense joy and knowing God was there and pouring out on us. Just the sitting there beside this getting-so-grown-up girl. This girl, my chubby five-year-old, who loved dolphins and killer whales and we checked out every book in our library about them. Some so many times, that I could walk directly to the shelf and pluck the book out of its spot.
The tears. Just like at the woman’s events I attended with my daughter the last two years. At the end, all we women formed groups of two or three, and Beth spoke words and we repeated them to each other. I held my daughter’s hands and I gazed into her dear face. That little girl I cuddled. That darling nose, I’ve kissed so many times. And as we spoke words of life and affirmation about living in Christ and as women of God, I couldn’t get through them without tears coming and my voice breaking and coming out in a ragged whisper. I just gazed at her and I couldn’t explain the emotions in my heart. And the next year, I was determined not to cry, but sheer determination did nothing. I just looked at her and listened to her dear, familiar voice and I couldn’t get through it again, without tears. That round-faced newborn girl brought to my waiting arms after a long labor and a surgery and finally her arrival. That two-year old, declaring to me about her mostly eaten piece of bread, “It’s not bread anymore, it’s just crust.”
And the thing is, the tears. They come easy to me anymore. At times when I don’t expect it at all. Tears of thankfulness and amazement and gratitude to God. When life hasn’t felt easy and it has been edged with pain, and emotions have been frayed and pounded hard, and yet a sweetness and a stillness and a sustainment has been an underlying anchor in the storm, the tears simply come as I feel God carrying me and know that there is only one visible set of footprints in the sand.
In many ways, I’m thankful for the tears. They mean the glory of God to me. Though I don’t like to cry around other people. I much prefer the safe place, alone with God to bare my heart, knowing He will never ridicule or shame me, to my face or behind my back. Knowing my realness and rawness are completely His hearts desire.
Moments to remember forever. The dolphins just kept coming. We’d catch a glimpse and watch them glide. Then nothing. Then some more.
My farmer man and my son join us in the sand and then wade out into the waves to play. My sister and her family come and we all gather, digging, playing, splashing, watching the dolphins until they’d all ventured on for the morning.
A beautiful experience. A treasure to me. Folded carefully and tucked into the treasure chest of my heart and soul. Though very different from becoming mother to the Savior, these times help me relate a bit more to the tiny slice of Scripture that tells us, Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The treasuring up and the reflecting and the drawing close to God. It moves me deeply. He loves so big.