I truly enjoy beauty, but experiencing it is different. The last three weeks have been a roller coaster of good and bad, but mostly good. And one experience was pure beauty. The night before last I spent at the beach–our church is having its annual camp out, and as head elder I didn’t feel I could skip the elders’ retreat at the beginning, and I didn’t want to.
My husband says he’s over camping, so I was going alone. I was excited, actually, about doing something like that by myself. It’s only 45 minutes away, I was going to sleep in the back of our forerunner, and it’s our hot time of year, so I didn’t think it would be too cold. (We have frozen camping at the beach or in the mountains.) I don’t sleep well camping, but it was only for one night…
My time with the elders was wonderful, and I was tired, and very hopeful about a good sleep. The night was warm and beautiful. So warm I had to crack the back window, but didn’t want it down because of mosquitoes. (There were a few–nothing like Minnesota.) And before long I fell asleep.
But two hours later I woke up, the half inch of foam and the zero bag underneath me weren’t quite enough for comfort. So I got the sheep-skins out of the two front seats and positioned them under the sleeping bag I was on top of. Ah-h, that was nice. It still wasn’t cold. So I laid there talking and listening to God. Very aware of His presence.
I’ve been writing Genesis 34 for my new series, and it’s so difficult. I’ve never even liked to read it, let alone expand it. So I got my phone and read a few more versions of it, sensitive to every little nuance, every tiny detail to get the “back story” as my friend calls it.
After a couple of hours, I still wasn’t back to sleep, and it was clear I was going to have to get up and walk across the campground to the bathroom. I got my shoes on and opened the car door to a lovely surprise, it was warm out there too, and a symphony of sound greeted me. The night throbbed with it. Frogs and crickets had a rhythm going with the waves crashing behind it for percussion. It was so loud I could feel it, and the leaves of all the giant sycamores were lit up by the full moon.
That three minute walk was amazing. Beautiful beyond description, and gratifying because I felt absolutely no fear. I am not generally fearful anymore, but it has taken years for me to be comfortable outside at night, after being “attacked” walking home alone one night when I was 12. This was glorious! The temperature, the sounds, the freedom, the beauty–I could have walked all night–except I was tired.
Then when I got back in the truck, I had to open the back window enough so I could hear it all! I couldn’t get enough. And God’s presence felt even stronger and sweeter. It was another two hours before I fell asleep, not wanting the magical night with Him to end.
And in another two hours I woke up and went and walked on the beach with two friends. The sun was just coming up–beautiful–as we walked and talked to God.
Three hours later I was out there again alone. I was leaving, but was pulled out again to the beach and it was all a new beauty. I sat on a rock watching my pastor and his two kids body surf and play in the water–delightful. How blessed they are to have a dad like that, I thought. One who truly knows God and values true priorities.
I wish every child had that. Not a perfect dad, but a real one. And I wish for all of you an experience of Beauty.