“You rule over the surging seas, when it’s waves mount up you still them.” – Psalm 89:9
It’s Friday evening, and I sit here recalling (maybe mourning) how this time last week we were on our way back to the beach to catch the final hours of the sand and surf. So many waves knocked us down, but we worked hard to get up again.
A week ago, we were saying goodbye to our beach trip of 2020. The trip was planned last minute—what else is new? It’s how we roll and how almost every vacation we have ever taken has been scheduled or not.
It’s hard to believe the beach respite has come and gone. I miss the beach life—the bike cruising, the walking, the basking of the sun, the effects of the salt water, and being closer to God.
But all seasons must come to an end.
Last night I sat outside and felt the change in the air. The air felt cool, crisp, and with a hint of fall as I took in a long deep breath.
I have felt and smelled the change in the air all day. Maybe it has been slowly creeping in all week. I am in denial. Is it so wrong to want this summer not to end?
A new season is rushing in like fierce incessant waves we encountered at the beach this time last week.
I am NOT ready.
I want to go back.
I want to remain in the lazy days of summer even though it feels like we’ve been on summer break for an unusually long time. Thank you quarantine, Great Pause, COVID, ‘Rona; however, we want to title the last uncertain, unpredictable, unprecedented months.
But, if you know me, I always mourn the transition from this season, because I ADORE the idea of summers that last forever. Notice I said, the idea of forever summers, but I love fall too. So…
Alas, the hint of fall is in the air. There is no turning back the clock now, save daylight savings time. But in 2020 fashion, who knows if THAT will actually happen this year.
As I type, my mind wanders to clove, pumpkin, sweaters, football, the first day of school pictures, yellow school buses dashing past my windows.
Tend and Weed
Armed with gloves, I started to clean up remnants of my less than best vegetable garden.
It’s a bit early for a fall clean up, but my garden has seen better days. I am not sure who is over it more this year – the garden, or me. Nonetheless, it was the perfect time to pull out the old plants and rotting vegetables that missed their prime.
Beyond the garden, I found about 10 gourds and a pumpkin growing in the tall uncut grass. You can read about our little volunteer pumpkins patch tradition here. It is a tradition that guarantees some sort of homegrown fall decorative produce.
While we were at the beach, the weeds took over my garden. It feels I have spent too much time pulling weeds this growing season. So many weeds.
No doubt, I AM ALWAYS weeding, in the garden and in life. You, too? If so, I have a theory on weeding I want to share with you someday.
No matter the abundant weeds and the dried out plants, I am grateful we managed to sneak away to the beach for some much-needed respite.
Time and Waves
It was a sacred time for more reasons we could have ever begun to imagine.
This time last week, I was standing alongside my favorite human—my husband Jon. We were at the edge of the water with sand between our toes, water washing over our feet, the wind whipping my “beach hair don’t care” curls, with the sun on our backs. There was no other place I wanted to be.
The giant waves, the strong undertow, and the blowing sand were undoubtedly remnants of the storm from the night before and the early afternoon showers that chased us off the beach.
We stood there under the brilliant blue sky, giving one more shot to keep our toes in the sand and for the kids to ride the waves. We have been riding so many waves.
The kids fought the rough waters to get past the break. They patiently waited to catch a good swell to ride only to start all over again.
We stood at the edge in the water, ankle-deep enough to avoid getting knocked down ourselves.
While hardly anyone remained in the water or on the beach for that matter, I think my husband and I were the cautious few who opted to not battle the waves, but we were battling other waves.
We chose to watch our kids and the patterns of the waves, for one last hurrah on the beach before we packed up to go home the next day.
As the brave water bugs cautiously attempted to make their way out to the rising white waves, their legs were inevitably taken out from under them as the waves crashed over them.
It was hard to keep a balanced footing. But it was fun to watch. They couldn’t stop smiling.
Thankfully the lifeguards were still on duty and were watching like overprotective parents. One was watching from a paddle board in the water and one on the stand that towered over the surf.
Each time those brave souls got knocked down, they got up again.
They did not give up in their attempt to get beyond the break of the waves.
Time and again, they would try again.
They laughed and stood up and tried again.
THEY never gave up trying to get to the place in the ocean where they would catch the perfect waves. They did not let the breaking point get the best of them.
What a lesson.
Eventually, they found the best place to navigate the waves they wanted to take for a ride.
They made their way beyond the rough, breaking waves to a spot where they could patiently wait to catch and ride the waves. Judging by their excitement, they eventually made it to a more stable footing in the waist-deep waters.
It appeared to be the more peaceful place they longed to be—the place where they could make the most of a rough situation.
Seasons can do that, they can toss you around and pull you under. You contend with the whipping wind, the blowing sand, the rough tide, and a strong current.
You eventually reach a place where you can stop and take a breath and wait patiently for it to pass. The waves calm, the wind stops, and you peacefully float in the water.
The incessant rough waters can definitely knock you down.
And in time, we can get back up, laugh, take it in stride, and hold the hands of those standing by your side when the waves are trying to pull you down.
I found myself humming the tune, 🎶”I get knocked down, but I get up again.”🎶 This is a tribute to the friend who told me she unintentionally sang these words out loud during mass last Sunday. This same friend and her family blessed our family beyond words with the gift of time on this vacation.
Perhaps she was reminded of her own time of being knocked down. Maybe she sang out the lyrics in response to a game we played while on the beach.
Nevertheless, the song lyrics remind me that, when we get knocked down, we always get up again. No matter what. I know this to be true.
This new season we are entering does not feel much different than the season we are leaving behind. These last months have been like the crazy windy beach, being pelted by sand, knocked down by crashing waves, and pulled under by a strong undertow. Oh 2020
As we watched our kids and their friends hold hands to collectively pull each other back from where the strong current dragged them, they held tight to each other. They used the strength of one another to move across the rough waves.
I have to admit, it was a joy to watch them work together to have fun and support each other to be sure the smaller kids—weaker ones—were not lost in the rough sea. They linked arms and helped one another, especially the weaker ones.
We are entering a new season again, so many unknowns for so many people, for so many reasons.
If you find yourself in a place where you need a little extra support, whatever that may be, first give yourself grace.
And then be open to receive whatever it is that God sends your way—in whatever forms come your way.
One of the younger kids struggled to get out to where the big kids were jumping the waves. She was trying to get past the breaking waters to the place they could stand without being knocked over.
I tried to help her get to where she could stand until her brother saw her fighting the uncertain break that no one could get past.
He ran through the surf, whisked her up, and carried her to where the others were playfully and joyfully laughing and riding the best waves.
After he carried her through the trickiest part, she found her courage to keep standing. Courage and love can always help us find our way.
She patiently waited and managed to ride the most spectacular wave to finish off our beach season. I will never forget the shrill of her thrill.
The seasons change both in nature and in our lives. Sometimes the seasons take us by surprise, much like the storm that rolled in earlier in the day that caused this rough surf we were now standing in. Please note, the tide wasn’t so dangerous they couldn’t or shouldn’t be in the water. It was extra strong, and waves were more substantial than they had been on the calmer days. So it was just fun.
Storms come, and can sometimes toss us around until we find our secure footing.
We have a choice in how we deal with the waves that knock us down. We can stand back up and try again.
If we get pulled down again, it is okay to laugh at ourselves (this is the house of love and laughter after all). We can link arms with those we know will guide us through rough waters.
When necessary, like the big brother who rushed in to carry the littlest one, we must remember who we can turn to for help. The one we can turn to is the Protector, the calmer of storms, the Good and Faithful Father, who can bring us to the safe footing or pull us out of the deep water.
We must trust God will always be there when we remember to reach for His Hand.
Whatever changing season you are in, whatever waves crash over you or undercurrent that pulls you down, know you will eventually get past the break. The Calmer of storms the one who also made the sea, the sky, the seasons will be there.
As you enter this new season, whatever that will look like for you, if you get knocked down, it is okay to stand up, maybe laugh (or cry) then simply try again.
Don’t lose hope, remember your courage, and your determination.
Remember to not give up and remember to take it all one crashing wave at a time.
All we can do is take it one day at a time.
Eventually, the storms will pass and the waters will calm.
Stay close to those who know how to calmly and lovingly link arms with you. You know the safe, trusting, loyal, unconditionally loving ones you can count on to notice as you begin to float away, or when you feel like you are being pulled under.
The ocean is vast, the waves can be fierce, but God is bigger than all of it.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…”– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Sidenote—this was the 30th summer Jon and I sat at the edge of the water together. The 30th summer of spontaneous vacations, time-outs, respite, rest, and recovery. The 30th summer with feet in the sand, sun on our skin, kids taking it one wave at a time. I would not have it any other way.
This was also the summer we discovered brain cancer. So this trip was more about respite and navigating big things to come, holding time as the waves and storms were engulfing us. Jon had his brain surgery just weeks before. He was recovering so well—a model patient—the doctor gave us the green light to embrace the moments and make memories before intense treatment began. So we chose to heal by the sea—our most treasured place where we feel closest to God. I am so grateful we did. Author’s note added August 2023.