Saturday, August 7, 2010
“CAUTION STRONG RIPTIDES NO SWIMMING ALLOWED” the sign read at Smith Point, our nearest ocean beach. It was 5:30 PM; the lifeguards were just leaving and we were just arriving, avoiding the $8 parking fee that is charged until 5:00.
Walking along the boardwalk that is adjacent to the Flight 800 Memorial, lined with flags representing the countries of origin of those who went down in the controversial plane crash, we watched as the lifeguards waved all the people to shore. As soon as the lifeguards were off the beach, the people waded back in.
Looking down over the guardrails, we could see new fences that had been put around the boulders at the base of the boardwalk’s foundations. There was now a twenty-foot drop from the boardwalk to the beach below. Last year this time, those boulders were not visible and the sand had almost reached the level of the boardwalk. This was all the work of erosion, and it was fortunate for us beachgoers that the beach was even open for our enjoyment.
The kids were excited by the wild waves, which became deceptively calm as they came closer to shore. As a former lifeguard who has had herself to be assisted in the riptide at Montauk Point, I have a very healthy respect of the ocean. I held on tight to my four year old with two arms and watched my three older ones like a hawk – they were instructed to go no deeper than the knees and no farther than ten feet from me.
We all went together for a sandwich break behind a sandhill, which had been built by the lifeguards to keep their watch stand in place. They all began building a sandcastle, and I was able to lay there, admiring their youthful enthusiasm, with the backdrop of the blue sky and the awesome ocean.
The stress of the busy summer and decisions for fall commitments dropped away as we enjoyed the present. What had kept me away from my favorite place? How much more would I put on my plate so that there was less and less time to fritter away here?
Erosion is the wearing away of a natural surface by redepositing its particles elsewhere. It is a natural and inevitable process; the beach must be watched and seasonally built back up by transporting more sand to renew its levels. Otherwise, before you know it, it’s gone. We can allow our souls to be eroded if we don’t keep careful watch and allow ourselves to be renewed on a regular basis.
St. Paul knew what it meant to be worn down and he encouraged the first Christians at Corinth to be present to the everlasting renewal offered by Christ. Today’s distractions are very different from those of that time period, but the message is more apt than ever.
2 Corinthians 4 : 16-18
Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.