Monday, February 1, 2016

My Beach is Gone

I have a favorite spot along the beach in Coronado. It's a little more secluded, there's a parking lot right there, and reaching the water doesn't require a super long walk across the beach. I love being able to get out of my car, walk down a few steps and be on the sand close to the water.

As I drove to my spot this week, I had the picture in my mind of what it would look like; I've gone there so many times. But this time, as I got out of my car, I noticed the ramp up from the parking lot had a reinforced barrier instead of just the usual metal handrail, and I was shocked when I reached the top. My beach was gone! The bottom half of the stairs where I accessed the beach were completely buried in sand and the waves were coming all the way up to the rocks, there was literally no exposed dry sand. The storms had completely changed my beach. I was reminded that we could think we have control by creating barriers and concrete walkways and stairs, but man-made objects can’t control the forces of nature.

This was an easy one to deal with. I just walked farther North down the boardwalk to a spot where a small sliver of beach remained dry and set up there. It was different than I expected but the ocean was still beautiful. The waves were big and powerful, the roar of the crashing waves and the hiss as the water receded pulled me into a relaxed state. As I sat and watched the waves I reflected on my life. I had things so planned out in my 20's. I had big plans for my career, big goals that were attainable with hard work and dedication. I had an idea of what my marriage would look like, when my kids would enter the picture, how independent and in charge I would be. But none of those things turned out how I pictured them.

There have been years where I've surveyed my life and felt the same shock I felt when I stood at the top of the stairs and realized my beach was gone. Nothing was as expected. I have even felt like those stairs, buried under a layer of storm residue wondering if I'll ever make my way out. And unfortunately, those times weren't as easy to deal with as walking north a few feet and finding a new spot at my beach. Life can make me feel like I need to grab on and dig in and fight like hell to maintain things the way they've always been. But that's not natural. Life instead is full of roaring, crashing waves and peaceful receding water and allowing myself to be shaped, to be changed, to be fully transformed by all that happens is not a bad thing. None of it may look like I've expected or planned but it doesn't change the capacity for beauty.

Learning to see the beauty when life looks completely different has required learning to relinquish control. I can only do what I can do. There are things that are beyond my ability--that are truly beyond my power--and I can either fight and claw and reject what I didn't plan, or I can allow life to unfold around me while I find a new way to thrive in the midst of whatever is thrown my way. 

"The ocean is roaring, Lord! The sea is pounding hard. Its mighty waves are majestic, but you are more majestic, and you rule over all. Your decisions are firm, and your temple will always be beautiful and holy." Psalm 93: 3-5 (CEV)

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