Farewell to shadows of bluebells on white chicken coop walls…Farewell to pleasant afternoons hanging laundry on the line in the company of friendly toads…Farewell to grasshoppers, and white trumpet vines, and all other such elegant pairings…Farewell to barefoot days at the edge of the lake……Farewell to the haunting serenade of loons… Farewell to daisy bouquets made by small hands, and smoky sunsets, gifts from forests burning far away…Farewell to cumulonimbus, those splendid, tall ships sailing by in the sea of the sky…Farewell to restless, flitting warblers in green, green meadows…Farewell to lush gardens decked in the thousand diamonds of sudden morning showers…Farewell to the brief, warm nights, sparkling with celestial beauty and fireflies, humming with mosquitoes…Farewell to all the sun-ripened berries hiding under the leaves…Farewell to picturesque encounters on whimsical summer evening drives…Farewell to all the babies, now raised and grown…Farewell to dancing swallowtails in ballrooms of flowers…Farewell, sweet summer; welcome, glorious autumn!
…my camera gave to me,
Nine shells a-washing…
Elegant little coils,
Neutral in decor,
Some pointed, some rounded,
All with an open door.
Empty little houses,
Occupants moved on,
Left on a sandy shore,
Discovered at dawn.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33)
Come with us to the beach! You know, that one that kind of seems like our own little secret, since you have to drive around a giant mud hole to get there, and then try not to get stuck in the sand while parking where the woods end and dunes begin. The other people sharing it with us are so far away we can almost imagine that the only creatures we have to share it with are the stray seagulls eyeing our cooler in hopes of handouts. The sand is so hot it scorches our bare feet and the water is cold enough to leave your body tingling deliciously after a single dip. It’s perfect.
Come run races down the hard-packed sand at the edge of the waves that go for miles, sending splashes sparkling to the sky, as hard and as fast as you can. Come make snow angels in the sand, face down, so the sun can soak your back. Come stand still and contemplate the art show where wave and sand meet, ripples and layers in constantly shifting patterns.Come wander amidst the white bleached driftwood, polished smooth by a thousand relentless waves. Come find smooth silvery bits to tuck into pockets as souvenirs, leaving behind the charred bits that are lovely memories of sunset beach fires and happy gatherings.Come toil up through ankle-deep sand to smell the wild sweet peas clinging to the dunes, trailing tenacious vines along the heaps of shifting soil beneath the nodding grasses.Come watch a little blue sailboat slowly unfurl its white wings as it heads out to sea. Come watch the children with sand for freckles who build endless castles, never tiring rebuilding what the relentless waves erode. Come beware of children with mischief twinkling in their eyes and that bucket full of fresh cold lake water they’re saving for when you’re back is turned (it will be refreshing).And when the sun and the wind and the splashing and the dunking and the running and the wandering has produced an appetite that seems as boundless as the blue waves reaching to the horizon, come and eat. There are slices of cold turkey, pickles and Jarlsburg wrapped in pretzel rolls or soggy sandwiches accidentally dropped in the lake, whichever you prefer. We have rosy-cheeked Ranier cherries and sandy granola bars for dessert, to hold us over until we drive past the ice cream shop that stocks Mackinac Island Fudge on our way home.
And perhaps our humble meal shared on a stretch of sand will remind you, just the tiniest bit, of another picnic on a beach thousands of miles away, a couple thousand years ago.
“The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw that a charcoal fire had been prepared, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
“Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said to them… Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.” (John 21:8-13)
And since this a vacation, after all, we’d linger even longer and read the whole chapter. This day we shared at the beach was pretty wonderful, but that story? It’s my favorite beach story of all time.
There’s a breeze coming in off the lake, this hot afternoon in early June. There’s blue sky smiling down at me through a lacy frame of green, green leaves. Summer is in the air, and I am, appropriately, drinking it in from the luxury of an airy vacation hammock. If the air is full of summer, the views are no less so—and so I offer you these vignettes, all visible, more or less, from my leisurely post.A kayak,
slice of orange against the liquid lake,
dreams of sliding through fleets of miniature maroon lily pads,
suspended on the dainty ropes of their anchored stems,
beneath the deep shadowy green of overhanging trees.A jeweled beetle climbs relentlessly upwards
as small hands tip a stick back and forth
and inquisitive eyes watch in fascination,
filling with tears when it finally loses patience
and flies away.Relentless waves
wash a thousand coiled empty snail shells
all the miles
down the long lake.
They come to rest here,
on this smooth spit of sand suddenly rising to block their path—
and so it becomes their final resting place.
And then, chubby baby hands clutch them tightly,
turning them around and around
and over and over
in sheer enjoyment of the sensory shape. Bare feet,
run up and down long flights of stairs,
earning the right to ice cream cones and fat slices of watermelon.Ducks dabble along the quiet green edges.
A family of geese tests the calm waters of evening,
with a babysitter in tow, just in case.Great clouds sail sedately by,
swimmers leaning back against the cushion of a swim trampoline,
squinting into the sunshine to watch them mesmerized,
rocked in the cradle of the waves,
laughing at a joke I’m too far away to hear.
And I leave my hammock to go join them. Because if there’s anything possibly better than celebrating our Father’s good gift of a beautiful day in the stillness of your own soul, it’s celebrating it with others.
“We were like those who dream…then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with joyful shouting…The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.” (Psalm 126:1-3)
“I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.” (Psalm 52:9)