sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too
impatient. To dig for treasures shows
not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience,
is what the sea
teaches. Patience and faith. One
should be empty, open, choiceless as
a beach—waiting for a gift from the
sea.” Ann Morrow Lindbergh in her book Gift
From The Sea.
Often when I
have retreated to the seashore for a couple of days of beachcombing, I have
brought Lindbergh’s classic book with me.
I do so because of its’ clarifying wisdom and guide to relaxation,
insight, and faith. Near the beginning
of this book I am compelled to pause reading with this phrase: “We are
all, in the last analysis, alone. And
this basic state of solitude is not something we have any choice about…We are
solitary.” Since my last visit to the beach (at Duck on
the Outer Banks of Hatteras Island), five longtime friends who were regular
recipients of my journal pages have now been deleted by their passing. Though
separated from them physically over
the years, their coming and going in my life were a part of who I became as a
person with our shared encounters, adventures, tasks, letters, talks and
Christian faith. Knowing there will be
only fond memories of them until some delayed rendezvous in heaven affects me
now profoundly. All these thoughts give
me shared empathy with others who are left for whatever the reason as singles
in the world.
continues her musings on being alone at the beach. “And it seemed to me,
separated from my own
species, that I was nearer to others;
the shy willet, nesting in the ragged tide-wash behind me; the sandpiper,
running in little
unfrightened steps down the shining beach rim ahead of me; the slow flapping
pelicans over my head, coasting downwind; the old gull, hunched up, grouchy,
surveying the horizon. I felt a kind of
impersonal kinship with them and a joy in that kinship. Beauty of earth and
sea and air meant more to
me. I was in harmony with it, melted
into the universe, lost in it, as one is lost in a canticle of praise, swelling
from an unknown crowd in a cathedral.
‘Praise ye the Lord, all ye fishes of the sea –all ye birds of the air
–all ye children of men –Praise ye the Lord!’.
Reading that I recalled other seashores around the world as memories
flooded: Wakkanai, Japan where we rode
our bikes along the seashore collecting glass balls lost from the fishing
boats, driftwood, and wild lilies;
Sondrestromfjord, Greenland where almost nightly for more than a year, I
watched the Aurora Borealis drape the heavens in rainbows of color; seagulls following
our ferry from the Costa del Sol past Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco; from aboard
the freighter Cho Yang Atlas seeing an albatross lone wandering in the
South China Sea. There, too, for the
first time, I had watched schools of fish emerge from the water and fly -
confirming mariners’ tales of fish leaping into their vessels.
the heir; come, let us kill him, and cast him out of the vineyard. And they
took him and killed him, and cast
him out of the vineyard. What shall
therefore the lord of the vineyard do?” Mark 12:6-9.
James S. Stewart in a sermon he titled
“Love’s Last Appeal” shows us how that Jesus tells a story just three days
before His death, a parable about the owner of a vineyard, which is purely autobiographical. This chapter of Scripture captures the
history of the Old Testament and the gospel in miniature. After the vineyard
owner repeatedly sends collectors whom the husbandmen reject, he finally sends
his only beloved son. It is the Father’s
own life story while the owner’s Son is none other than Jesus Himself sent by
the Father showing us the long history of His patience, longsuffering, and forgiving
love for His chosen people. God never
lets go. Robert Seymour Bridges
captured this tenacious love of God in perceptive verse with his own response.
I will not let
The stars that crowd the summer skies
Have watched us so below
With all their million eyes,
I dare not let thee go.