03 May 2010

Jumping over shadows

Today's post is part of the Blog Carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley, topic, JOY. Click through to her site for some great posts.

“I honestly think the beach is the only place children actually entertain themselves.”

--Donna McLavy

He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.

--Job 9:8

Here in Daytona Beach, modesty is not one of our spiritual gifts. Spring Break 2010 is over, but the world’s most famous beach still plays host to a sea of partially dressed humanity. The sand is hard packed here; cars weave freely in and out of sunbathers smearing sunscreen on each other’s shoulders. Waves colliding with sand is a part of our rhythm of life in Florida.

Friday I joined forces with my friend and colleague, Michael McCrory, for a little beach walk. A thirty-mile toddle, from Ponce Inlet, north, to Flagler Beach … thirty miles? What the HECK were we think’n …


Post trip observations:

Retirees own the beach around sunrise. I guess all the young pups are getting ready for work, nursing hangovers, or both.

If you want to collect seashells, get to the beach early. Small armies of seashell hunters storm the beach like viking invaders and grab the best formed shells within the first few hours of sunlight. McCrory found a nice sand dollar, but it fractured, like the bones in our feet, by the end of our death march.

Arm tattoos, the kind that look like shirtsleeves, are getting popular with twenty-something women. I noticed the trend in San Francisco last month, but I thought it might be a West Coast thing … guess not. I wonder what those tattoos are going to look like when those young ladies get that flabby-arm-thing some grandmothers get.

Families are a huge contingent on the beach. What stood out most Friday is how much joy parents get from watching their children play. Kids never stop smiling as they jump over waves with their arms straight up in the air or roll themselves up in blankets of sand.

The beach has a spellbinding effect on children. Laughing children have a spellbinding effect on parents.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. -- Romans 8:16

Near the end of our walk, somewhere near mile twenty-five, the beach cleared, and I had a moment to stop and face the windy Atlantic alone. Long shadows from sea oats and saw palmetto mingled with my own shadow.

God, who am I that you should love me? I have done so much wrong. I have hurt others. I have shamed myself and my family. How can you possibly love me?

His answer was clear as waves crashed nearby: Rusty, I love you. I have always loved you. Like those children dancing in the sea today, you belong to me, you are precious to me.

And, it is true. God loves you that much, too.

... Father, thank you for the sea. Thank you for the beach. And, thank you for our children. Father, be with us and those we love. In Jesus name we pray ...


  1. A 30-mile walk -- and on the beach, no less!

    But it sounds like you heart was filled with joy, even if your feet weren't.

  2. His eyes are watching you. You are the apple of his eye. On another note, the flab under us grandmother's arms; it's called an elephant ear.
    It's very soft. When we raise our arms, if ever, we jut them straight up-never sideways. The tats will be free form art by then. :) Ink blobs to decode.

  3. AnonymousMay 04, 2010

    I love my moments with God on the beach. Thanks for the great thoughts and images you left in my mind.

  4. Oh for the day when we need not jump over the shadows ...

    Nicely done, Rusty.

  5. I'm headed to the beach in another week or so...I loved this post. Standing in front of the ocean fills me with awe and gratitude and most especially, joy.

  6. I loved this post.....it made me laugh (thinking about my own tattoos, LOL)....and then this gave me a lump in my throat (but a happy lump)

    "Like those children dancing in the sea today, you belong to me, you are precious to me."

    Thank you for blessing me today with this....

  7. How beautiful. both the walk and your words.

    thanks for sharing so joyfully.

  8. AnonymousMay 04, 2010

    i think that's i how far i walked around the mall when i went shopping with casey this weekend. the retirees must come on weekday mornings at the mall.
    and at the mall, the kids were crying for the most part.
    they could have used a trip to the beach and a nap.

    on the oregon beach, it's usually too cold to take my coat off. but, i have had a hankering to go there lately, just to sit in the sand and look out on the water.

    and rusty? that's a new one!
    kinda cool, that.
    which name is used for you the most
    russell, russ, or rusty?

    oh! and i just gotta say... 30 miles?!!? yikes!

  9. Wonderful post.

    I was listening to poet Mark Nepo the other day. He sees the sea as a metaphor. He says it is the only thing that accepts everything that enters it and looses nothing. Same as God.

  10. Love this, Rusty; just LOVE it! Love reading your stuff, man.

  11. I loved this post, Rusty! As a coastal Carolina girl, the times I feel the most alive are when I have sand between my toes and can smell the salt in the air. Those are also the times that I feel the closest to God. And a 30-mile walk? Wow, that's just craziness! Thanks for posting this!

  12. Glynn - today was the first day my feet felt normal ...

    Kathleen - Elephant ear ... sounds like another post :-)

    Bridget - Thanks for your efforts!

    Anne - Eventually friends call me Rusty ... :-)

    Joyce - I hope you have a great time at the beach.

    Michelle - I love tattoos! And, your blog!

    nAncy - I love cold days at the beach. I was Rusty until I turned 18 and joined the Army. Everyone since then starts off calling me Russell ... friends eventually move to Rusty. People call me Russ less often ... unless they call me Big Stud Russ Bro (In high school I wanted that to be my future professional wrestling name ... :-)

    Maureen - Thanks for sharing the metaphor ... nice.

    Eva - I have always loved the name Eva ... thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Sarah! - Thank you ... for being you ... :-)

  13. AnonymousMay 04, 2010

    Wow! You have such a way with words. Thanks for sharing this.

  14. What wonderful lessons you learned during a walk on the beach. Thank you for sharing this.

    Your conversation with God reminded me of my own the last time I saw waves crashing on a beach. There is just something about the vastness of the ocean that reminds me how small I am, how big God is, and how much of an honor it is to be loved by Him. May He abundantly bless you and those you love.

  15. Lanie - Thank you, too.

    Tracia - God speaks to us in so many ways. Thank you.

  16. I'm going to the Northwest the last half of July... and most of my heart is aimed at hitting beaches in Oregon, Pt. Defiance Park in Tacoma, the waterfronts in Tacoma and Seattle, and on and on. Listening to the waves and wind always sinks deep into my heart. [God moved me here to Omaha nearly 36 years ago, and even the two side moves -- Uganda and Oklahoma -- did not have the water (and mountains) that cause my heart to explode. Wish I could handle the 30 miles walk... sounds truly "joyful" to have that opportunity. [Oh, and as a grandma, even if was a "tattoo" type person, I would avoid it for exactly the reason you pointed out.]

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post.

  17. AnonymousMay 06, 2010

    i'm calling you rusty from now on.

  18. Caryjo - I grew up in Kansas, so I know how powerful it is to see the sea after a time away from its power ... have fun.

    nAncy - Music to my ears ... :-)