We met in the mid 1990s, when my parents owned a time share in Cancun Mexico, where we spent some of my college spring breaks. This wasn't my first introduction to the beach. I had been to Captiva Island on the Gulf Coast of Florida and the southeast coastline, but it was the Carribean who spoke to me in a way that I could not ignore.
Some family and friends from the Midwest still roll their eyes with skeptical looks when I fly to Des Moines from Pittsburgh for reunions and declare that my final destination will be some coastal city or town - in part because I've been talking about it for about 10 years and still haven't moved. (But hey, life isn't over just yet.) While I cannot deny a certain amount of pride about being raised in Des Moines and have nothing against family and friends who chose Iowa, Minnesota or Kansas as a place to raise their families, I could, but chose not to ignore the strength of the undertow pulling me toward the sea.
Some Midwesterners tend to associate beaches with an elite, overindulgent lifestyle, but it's not about proving myself "better." It's not about becoming a beach bunny, showing off a bikini or scoping out "hot bodies." It's not about physically distancing myself from family or escaping my values.
It's about moving toward the Sacred and Holy.
W. Phillip Keller, author of "Sea Edge" (1985) explains it so well in his opening dedication: "To those who love the sea edge and sense God's presence there." Exactly. I can experience the full essence of the Almighty through every sense by the sea. Keller writes of the healing powers of the sea, due to its chemical compounds. "The sea water itself is a marvelous healing agency. Cuts, wounds, abrasions, sores, and skin blemishes are sterilized, cleansed and enabled to heal with great rapidity. Even injured joints and torn ligaments, if bathed in the sea, then exposed to the warm therapy of the sun, will mend in wondrous ways. Just walking barefoot on the sand, letting the ocean waves play about one's feet and legs is beneficial. The splash of sea water on the skin makes it throb and tingle with exquisite delight as the blood comes racing to the surface of the body . . . the Spirit of God reminds me that similarly He is my great Healer. It is He who restores my soul. It is He who renews my spirit. it is He who restores to my life the health and wholesomeness of His own character."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh has written insightful meditations on life inspired from the sea in "Gift from the Sea" originally published in 1955 renewed for its 50th anniversary publication in 2005.
Not only are the rhythms of the sea soathing and healing, but the sun creates millions of diamonds when it shines, making it a precious jewel, and more meaningful to me than stained glass windows, an altar and a pulpit. I fall to my knees in the sand and praise God for the gift of the sea.