It's not that I don't like the beach, but the beach doesn't like me.
Actually, I love the beach! I just don't have any desire to go into the water above my knees. If I can search for rocks and shells while listening to the waves crashing against the shore and watching seagulls circle over head, I am more than content. There is something incredibly peaceful about the sounds and sights of the ocean. The colors, as the sun glistens off the water creating every imaginable combination of bright blues and cool greens, both invigorates and calms. And the rhythm of the waves beating against the sand, paired with the cries of birds floating through the air, can easily lull one to sleep. Add to that the joy of finding a one of a kind treasure in the shape of a shell or rock, and you have an absolute paradise! But, as I said, the beach doesn't like me.
You see, I have this problem, I burn... horribly! I think I could probably get a burn from a full moon! And no, I don't tan, I just burn, peel, and repeat. So, although I was beach camping last weekend, I think I was only on the beach for a total of two hours. But, two hours, spread over three days, with a hat, sunscreen, and long sleeves, was still too long. After not being able to sleep the first night because of the pain from my burnt legs, I even went to wearing pants instead of shorts, but I still managed to keep burning!
So, I decided that as I couldn't go to the beach, I would bring the beach to our campsite. I spent most of one day drawing and painting some of the shells and rocks that we had collected. And the truth is, I think I enjoyed that as much as if I had spent the day on the beach.
Although they were quicker, looser drawings, they still forced me to take time to notice the little details. Maybe I wasn't able to see the vibrant colors of the ocean from our campsite, but instead, I picked out the subtle blues, greens, and yellows in a striped rock that would have at first been passed off as being gray. And, although I couldn't continue my treasure hunt on the beach, I began a new type of treasure hunt, right there at a picnic table under the shade of a tree. Instead of finding new shells and rocks, I was rediscovering the ones I had already found. Shapes, colors, and textures that had caught my eye the day before were now thoroughly examined and appreciated. Each one was unique and beautiful, a work of art. I wish I could have done them justice.
Looking back at how I spent my time, I could be disappointed that I was confined to the shade all weekend, while others enjoyed the sun... Or I could count my time at the beach as a huge mistake because it ended in a lot of pain... Instead, I am going to chose to remember the beauty that I experienced. So often, we look at the hardships in our lives and see only the inconvenience, but if we would only look a little closer we would see a hidden blessing behind the pain. I wish I could say that I would have taken the time to slow down and enjoy the small details without getting burnt, but the truth is, I probably would have put it off until I got home, and then I would have most likely been too busy and put it off again. But God didn't exactly give me a choice, and strangely enough, I am actually grateful. I came home exhausted and with second degree sunburns, yes, but I also returned with a reminder of how incredibly big our God is. He is always faithful to weave beauty through our lives, down to the tiniest detail. I just need to choose to look for it. And, hopefully, next time, it won't take a sunburn to force me.