It's been so long since Brent and I got away together, just the two of us. We've been working so hard that it seemed impossible, but we forced a break in the business with the help of a hoard of people taking care of the kids for us. I will never be able to express enough gratitude to them!
We have had a few beach vacations with the kids that were incredibly fun, but I always wished I could just close my eyes for a second to rest. Vacations with kids are constant head counts and efforts to keep everyone alive somewhere different than home, especially around water. All parents know this. Incredible memories, but not restful at all.
The beach is a spiritual place, regardless of what your belief system might be. The loudness drowns out all distractions, the rhythmic in and out ushers in release and acceptance, the vastness makes you feel small.
Yesterday we laid in the sun for hours (the pinkness of our skin bears witness) and played in the ocean. Brent prefers to just jump the waves while I use a boogey board to coast over them and float with the give and take of the tide. I floated for a long time on my own before Brent joined me. The waves were tame and we willingly surrendered to them. It was fun to turn my back and not know what was about to hit me because they were mostly gentle.
Today there was a storm brewing far off on another coast, but it made the waves big and angry. We went in anyway. I got tired pretty much immediately. Wave after wave blasted us and knocked us down. I found that if you could brave the biggest ones you would eventually get to a sweet spot where you could coast over the crests before they broke. But it was far out and I couldn't touch, and the waves looked so big as they built that you just knew it was gonna break right over your head. A couple of them did and we summersaulted under the water. A couple of times I couldn't even tell where Brent had gone and stood ready to dive in after him in case he didn't pop back up somewhere. Finally, the beating was enough and we opted to just stand at the shore and get knocked at the knees. We stared out into the crashing and let our minds wonder.
I thought about how the ocean is like life. When our babies are little we protect them from life by keeping them on the shore to play in the sand and stick their toes in. I have had the pleasure of discovering some really awesome things just sitting on the shoreline with my babies. Tiny little crabs I wouldn't have otherwise noticed, the way the sea foam quivers in the wind, and of course the millions of seashells we have gathered. As they get bigger, we let them go further out. They get knocked down enough to respect staying close to the shore, but grow strong enough to enjoy the waves and play in them safely. Eventually they are heading out to the beach without us there at all.
Some people prefer to just stay on the sand. They watch others live exciting lives, some on surfboards, some idiots going way too far out, some getting sucked in by an undertow. It's safe on the sand, but you don't really experience the ocean that way.
Sometimes you go through a stormy season of life and you are just out there in those waves with your husband, your life partner, and you are taking a beating. The two of you together are holding each other up and getting exhausted.You have to swim back to shore and take a rest when that happens. Some seasons are calm and smooth and you splash each other playfully and float on your back with only the occasional stifling salt water smash to the face.
I thought of that song "Oceans" that declares a bold prayer that I think most people wouldn't pray if they really thought about what they were asking for. Take me deeper? Keep my eyes above the waves? Like I found today, if you can be brave enough to go past that point that terrifies you, you find yourself on the other side of the breaking point of the waves. It is deep, and there could be sharks, but you can float on your back. I prayed that prayer two years ago and God did take me past the big scary waves to the terrifying ocean. As I'm finding all the blog posts I lost, I'm reliving moments where hard decisions were made, things were let go of, new things embraced. The last four years have been big big waves.
For a couple of days I'm taking a rest on the sand, working on my tan. But I'll be ready to jump back into those waves with Brent, whatever kind they may be.