At my granddaughter’s eighth birthday party, on the beach at Poppit Sands, one of the guests was a little girl who lived about 8 miles away. 8 miles from the sea, the dolphins, the wheeling gulls, the glorious dunes with their wild orchids and tumbled briars, the reeds and grasses…. and she had never before been there. She had never splashed in the waves or climbed the rocks, dug a sandcastle or crunched her way through a sandy picnic. She comes from a farming family, a close knit family in a tight community and she really had never ever – even once – been to her local beach! How staggering is that? She has a normal country childhood, playing in the hills and fields, and streams, with brothers and sisters and friends, she had all the normal daily joys of childhood…. but the coast was an amazing and alien world.
I was reminded of her yesterday because a friend is visiting from London, and she has something in common with our little Eglwyswrw guest – she too had never walked on a beach before. She’s in her 40’s, she’s a graduate, she speaks 7 languages, worked as a journalist in Russia, has produced documentaries, was born into a Pakistani family, grew up in Cambridge, now lives in London and yesterday she walked on a beach – for the first time. Goodness… that just amazes me.
It’s interesting to see this little (very ordinary) beach through my visitor’s eyes –
‘The sand is quite hard to walk through… the soft bits.’ Well, yes… it’s sand.
‘Will I see dolphins?’ I don’t know. You might.
If I walk to that bit of the cliff, will I stand a better chance of seeing dolphins?’ I don’t know – it’s a ruddy big sea and they’re wild creatures.
‘The sky is very low.’ No, but there aren’t a lot of buildings and roofs between us and it.
She is just delighted, entranced, by my world. I know her London world and it doesn’t delight me even one tiny bit, not one iota (whatever that is in pounds sterling or avoirdupois ). This enchanting and enchanted kingdom is my daily fare. How fortunate or blessed does that make me? Very blessed indeed. I hope that I never forget to marvel at God’s creation.
Here’s a chunk of a Psalm: 104
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendour and majesty.
The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
Most mornings I post a pic on Instagram, of the sky and the sea, ever changing, always beautiful. And every morning I am lost, simply lost in wonder and praise. And awe. And love. This was yesterday.
How blessed am I?
Does that seem folksy and trite to you? I know that life is a vale of tears, I understand that. I’ve shed my share of them over my raddled years. I know that some of you are reading this in a hard and worrying time. Jesus said ‘In this world you will have trouble.’ and we do, each and every one of us. But joy is triumphant even in the moments of grief, if we know, or have known, love. Finally, after a lifetime looking for it, I have found love, pure love, eternal and unchanging, and the world makes sense to me. Life makes sense to me. Even, when I look back at a lousy childhood, the very very bad times make a sort of sense. They made me who I am and -amazingly! – God loves who I am. Even me.
Jesus didn’t just say ‘In this world you will have trouble.’ The corollary to this was his next few words: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
He has overcome my world.