Beaches, Devotionals, Sea Shells

Smiles to Warm Me

My first morning at the beach, I’m eager to go for a walk. The sun has already crested the horizon, but I see it’s only 59 degrees out on our balcony. 

The beach is empty except for a boy racing by. Where’s he going? To the pier? Or home to escape the cold wind? Although I long to get out and walk along the sand, I decide to wait a while.

An hour later, the needle hasn’t budged, but a stalwart family of five has set up their chairs near the surf. Not too cold for them. I’ll bundle up.

Terry grins as I put on a flimsy hoodie. “Wind’s cold.”

Undeterred, I head out the door, but I don’t make it four steps before I retreat back inside and trade it for a my thickest cardigan.

My body acclimates somewhat on the trip down the boardwalk. It’s not too bad. Once down the stairs, the question arises: flip-flops or bare feet? I step out of my sandals and wiggle my toes in the sand—just a tad chilly.

Even though I know I’ll pay for it later with chaffed feet, I strike out. The closer I get to the water, the colder the sand. I settle for a path between the wet, packed shore and the deeper sand. As I slog west, the wind’s at my back and my sweater’s warm.

Following the tideline, I look for that elusive sand dollar or a tiny starfish, but all that catches my eye is an Imperial Venus about the size of a quarter. I pick it up.

A little farther down the way, a man sits with a book. He’s all bundled up against the wind except for his tanned hands and feet. We exchange “Good Mornings,” and I move on, wondering if the soles of his feet will burn later, too.

Two women feed the gulls from the end of their boardwalk. Half the noisy birds hover near them while others congregate on the sand below. Waiting their turn? I doubt it. More likely waiting for whatever falls on the sand. Gulls have notoriously bad manners.

I pick up a abandoned sand shovel and turn back. The wind on my face is not so bad. I’ve warmed up considerably, and my feet aren’t too cold.

I stop and ask a young couple gathering shells if they are looking for anything in particular. 

“Just picking up shells,” she says.
“Would you like this one,” I ask, handing her my shell. She and her companion break into smiles.

Next, I pick up a little piece of rosy barnacle and angle toward a boy of about ten dipping a net into the surf. I ask, “Would you like this?”

Grinning broadly, he says, “Thank you,” and shows it to an older woman (perhaps his grandmother). She rewards me with a nice smile, too.

That makes Four Smiles.

As I near our building, I see that the little family is still out, so I offer the smallest boy the shovel.

Four More Smiles.

Eight Smiles Today. 

My feet are already tingling as I head inside to slather lotion on them. But what’s a little discomfort when those warm smiles will be with me the rest of the day.

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer…

Proverbs 11:24 OB

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2015. All rights reserved

Navarre Beach, Sand Dollars, Sea Shells

More Lessons from the Beach

In Monday’s post on Arkansas Women Bloggers, I told you how my carelessness crushed a perfect little sand dollar and about the lessons I learned from its loss. I promised to share a few more insights today.

If the sand dollar is a metaphor for meaningful experiences, I’m sure there are more special moments in our weeks than there are sand biscuits on the shore. The problem comes when we get so busy with other seemingly important things that we miss them.

 Here are just a few everyday moments for you to consider.

  •  A father adjusts his pace to his son’s wobbling progress after removing training wheels from his bike. He could have gotten in a good run, but instead he was there for the victorious ride down the sidewalk.
  • A harried mother stops to really listen to her child’s discovery or to answer her preteen’s question even though she has lessons to plan. She knows what her child is thinking.
  • A woman says yes to lunch with a friend who’s adjusting to living alone for the first time in her life. She could have lazed around and finished that book. Instead she’s rewarded with a new depth in their relationship.

One perk of retirement is the luxury of more time to take note of the beauty around us. My friend Debbie Hoofman stops on country roads to snap pictures of wildflowers and shares them on Facebook. She could rush by on a mission to finish her errands or not bother to post the pictures, but because she does, everyone’s blood pressure probably drops a few points.

In March we met the couple who rents the condo next door for a couple of months each winter. When they invited us in to visit, I noticed a pile of tiny white sand dollars lying on her kitchen counter. I asked if she had found them on the beach. She told me she had, adding that lots were washing in with the tide, but you had to go out early to find them.

Was I envious? You bet! But only for a moment, because by that time, I understood that if she had given me one or a dozen, they would still have been hers, not mine. I had already made up my mind to be content with the memory of the day I found that one perfect sand dollar and to remember the lessons I had learned.

 Last week, just two days after I posted The Elusive Sand Dollar, I found a partial coin that was no larger than the end of my thumb. This time, I was careful as I retrieved it and placed it in a larger shell. However, later when I tried to move it to another spot, it broke into three pieces. That little sand biscuit was so fragile it couldn’t stand up to being held.

That reality check led me to consider that perhaps some of God’s blessings are simply meant to be enjoyed in the moment. When we try to grasp them, we cause more harm than good.

Isn’t that the case with our children? We can savor the firsts in their lives, but we would never expect  them to remain there. Instead we hide those memories in our hearts to be recalled whenever we like. That’s how I view my sand dollar finds now. The experience of coming upon them is a blessing.

Sacred moments steal upon us, but it is always our choice whether we stop and truly enjoy them. My prayer is that you and I will always choose to stop, my friend. 

 …“you are anxious and troubled about many things, 
but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, 
which will not be taken away from her.”  
Luke 10:41-42

Copyright © Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge 2014. All rights reserved