Ladies Day Out


I am driving from the downtown area of Rockport when I suddenly decide to stop and sit a spell by the ocean. The day is perfect September, all blue sky and mild temperatures. It is low tide and the beach has lost the crowds of summer, leaving pristine sand and so much space. I easily find a bench to sit on and pull out my notebook and pen.

It is then that I begin to observe a group of ladies gathering at the beach. They come in a large group and they are every shape and size. They unpack beach bags and bring out books and suntan lotion. Older wrinkled bodies are revealed without embarrassment, just relaxed satisfied smiles and pure delight in their surroundings. They are short and tall with dyed hair and grey hair. They pull large caftans off of fat bodies and beach coverings off of thinner ones. Their bathing suits seem to perfectly reflect their personalities – the one with dyed hair made up to perfection with the loud Italian voice has a bright coral suit with splashes of white flowers adorning it. The one that struggles to walk has on a black suit with white piping, unremarkable in its style.

Their canvas, beach chairs face the ocean, their backs are to everything but the cool, blue sea. Because really – nothing else matters.

There are no kids. There are no husbands or boyfriends. Just a group of contented women, enjoying a perfect September day on a ladies day out. Their conversation is lost in the waves, but their laughter is loud.

“Look at us!” it says. “This is a day that asks us to leave all our troubles behind. It asks us to enter in with joy and abandon, to splash in a cold, late summer sea; to squint at a bright sun; to smell of coconut lotion and salt water.”

Not all days are like this. Many days require great patience, others require tears, still others ask for anger. But this day? This day says “Welcome! Feel the joy and sand. Feel God’s pleasure. Take it in. Let it revive you. Let it heal you. Let it sustain you!”

And then?

Then go out into this world with strength for what comes your way.

This group of women? They are seasoned and spiced with life. There are undoubtedly countless tragedies among them. Tragedies of broken relationships and marriages; tragedies of death and separation; tragedies of selfish choices and unkept promises – because this is our broken world.

But tragedies are not a part of today’s outing. No – today’s outing is suntan lotion to make them feel young again, ocean waves to cool wrinkled feet, laughter and joking over seagulls stealing sandwiches, and maybe – just maybe a little frozen rosé to sweeten a near-perfect day.

I sigh as I leave these ladies of a certain age. Unlike them, my responsibilities are calling hard today, and I have already ignored them to vicariously participate in this ladies day out. I am rapidly becoming one of these women, and one day soon I hope I too will gather at the ocean with all my friends. Our bodies will be exposed with lots of flaws and little embarrassment. Our laughter will echo across Front beach so all the neighbors will hear and envy us.

I will be the one in the coral suit.

This piece is for the two Carols, Karen, Amalia, Suzana, Leslianne, & Poppadia Paula – with so much love. 

On the Ocean and God

I love the ocean. I love its waves pounding over rocks or breaking softly over sand. I love the way it looks in calm and in storms. I love the smell and the feel of the ocean.

I love everything about it.

I’ve long held a healthy respect for the ocean with its deep waters and indescribable sea life. It is constant, yet unpredictable; fierce but calming; healing yet hurting while it heals.

Never have I wished the ocean to be anything different than what it is.

As I was recently reflecting on this, I realized how much my feelings for the ocean resemble my feelings for God.

I love Him – but I don’t understand him. He is constant, but completely unpredictable. He heals but, like a good surgeon, it often hurts. He is a fierce God, yet learning more of him calms my soul.

But I have often wished God to be different than he is. I have often wished him to be more predictable. I have often shaken my fist and said “You hurt me!”. My soul has many times been anything but calm.

Reflecting on my acceptance of the ocean brings waves of challenge. Can I be willing to accept the mystery of God the way I do the mysteries of the ocean?



Freeze Frame Faith

“If only I could freeze frame this moment!” I thought. The ocean was perfect. The gentle crash of ocean waves on a shoreline of smooth sand set against a cloudless sky. All was right. The worries of the week were erased, swept out to sea like the sandcastle at high tide. Faith seemed easy and belief a no-brainer as I looked out at the beauty surrounding me.

Freeze-frame (noun) a single frame of a film repeated to give an effect like a still photograph

I wanted my life to be a still photograph of that image. How seemingly easy it would be to have faith! To watch the tides from high to low; to walk the beach with a comfortable companion.

Back in the city the heat was greater and chaos seemed to accompany arrival. Kids so content just minutes before were suddenly arguing and the house seemed noisy and irritating. Where was the freeze-frame? How had the image changed in one car ride?

Freeze-frame faith. Being able to capture those moments, not to live in them, but to remember when life takes on different challenges. During the times we have had life-changing events it has helped me to write all the steps and the many miracles that went in to those events, a verbal freeze-frame to record moments. A freeze-frame to look back on as life takes a different direction and feels oh-so-hard.

And today I need this freeze-frame. I need the reminders of an ordered world so I can face one with chaos. I need the reminders of smooth sand and crashing waves so I can face city streets and crowded sidewalks. I need a freeze-frame faith.