So, I mentioned that I went to the beach (yes, again) on Friday to do some walking and some picture taking. Now that I live a little more than an hour from the ocean, I can do this pretty regularly.
Many people are not beach people. They are mountain people. I understand. But I'm not a mountain person.
What is it about the beach? (And here I mean oceanside, not any sandy place near water or volleyball net. The beach I now frequent is almost always empty of people for the most part. I can go for hours without seeing more than five or six people. I have the place nearly to myself.) My reasons are probably similar to the reasons of mountain people. I find serenity there. The ocean is vast and the sky is high and I feel as if I am on the edge of the world. I feel small, and that keeps me humble - what are my little issues in the vastness of my surroundings?
Also, there's that rhythm of the tide, which sounds to me like God's breathing. It pushes out whatever is tangled up inside me, it clears my head, it is fresh and cleansing. I just find I can let go of stuff there and take deep breaths.
I also like the wildlife. I like the birds (have you noticed?) and the little crabs and seeing dolphins arcing through the water. I like the shells - both the broken ones and the whole ones - and never come back without another one or maybe even another bag full. I like the colors - the ocean blue and the golden sand and the blue and white sky. I like the feeling of the sand under my soles and the water on my toes, even when it's really cold. I go barefoot unless it's under 40 degrees.
I like to walk for miles, listening to the waves and the birds and watching the water and the sky. I like beachcombing. And I find all of this to be a time and place for prayer, often intense prayer. I pray about all sorts of things as I marvel at creation and open up and let go of stuff. Sometimes I just walk along talking out loud to God about what's on my mind. Sometimes I just stand there looking out over the water while I say people's names. Sometimes I argue, with God or with myself. Sometimes I have a good cry. Sometimes I just go along in silence, breathing.
I don't mind company, by the way. It just works out that I go by myself more than I go with others to the ocean. But of course I'm never by myself anyway. God is with me.