This morning I am sitting in a lovely beach house built in the 1890s. It’s the Washaway house at Grayton Beach, Florida; referred to as “A Grayton Tradition – Washaway” in case you happen to look it up on the internet (http://secure.rivardnet.com/rns/search/AGraytonTr.aspx). The house sits about 100 yards from the ocean water. Absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend it.
I am up early, today, as is my grandson. I was up before the sun, and enjoyed a gorgeous Florida sunrise. The fall air is cool now, and the characteristic beach breeze makes me appreciate my warm cup of coffee even more than usual (and that, is saying something). My grandson’s Mom and Dad need some extra rest, so I have him with me downstairs; we are watching Dinosaur Train on the television.
Last night, my daughter took some pictures of my wife and me on the beach just as the sun was setting. There’s nothing much like a sunset on the beach with a beautiful woman in your arms! And I saw a sight I don’t recall ever seeing before; for beach dwellers it might be commonplace, but to me it was unique. As the red ball of the sun set on the ocean water amidst a thin band of clouds (similar to the masthead on my blog) it appeared to be sitting on a convex shape, like a dinner plate made of sunlight. Breathtaking!
But this morning there are dinosaurs on the beach.
No, not in the paleontological sense (they may have sunbathed on these beaches a long time ago, but not today); just on the television. It puts me to thinking about the generations this house has hosted, and the technological changes it has embraced over the years. The flat screen TV is attached to a wood paneled wall above the fireplace, a wall that once may have held a picture, too – just not one that was animated.
Of course, the electricity that we are so dependent upon, was not original to this house; nor was the type of plumbing we enjoy. Characteristically, the kitchen sits opposite the main house, separated by a breezeway common to 19th century houses. The wood paneled ceilings appear to be about 10 feet high, and there are wooden floors throughout the house.
Much has changed over the years.
I guess the only thing that hasn’t changed is that daily rising, traversing, and setting sun, and the unremitting pounding of the surf onto the shore. But then . . . those are not changeless either, are they?
The shoreline I see today is not even in the same place it was in 1890. There is constant change even though at times it seems infinitesimal. The position of the sun has changed in relation to the earth. And the magnificent stars we saw in the sky last night are not exactly as they have always appeared to their admirers.
My grandson constantly asks for our iPhones so he can “look at Nana’s pictures” (as he says); he loves to watch himself on the screen. He does this activity today in a house built 120 years ago, a time before anyone used the words download, cyberspace, and vanilla chai latte.
We live and love in a world that has been inhabited by countless souls who have gone before us. They walked many of the same paths we tread today . . . well . . . maybe a few inches to the left or right of where we tread today, but . . . nevertheless. And their lives were just as full, and present-day, and pressing as ours. They would not have understood all our gadgets and “necessities,” in their day, would they?
And what lies ahead of each of us?
Change. Change. And more change.
But also . . . love, family, suns, moons, stars, oceans of life experience, and time.
Time effaces this beach I enjoy. Time reminds me that I am about to turn sixty years old in a few weeks. I rise each morning with hopes, dreams, and tasks to perform. Then time washes that day away. Night falls. Then another day begins.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says: “The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises” (Eccles. 1:5). “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccles. 1:9).
True. Nothing new. Nothing unique and unrepeatable. Not ultimately.
But it feels new today. It feels unique. It feels . . . unrepeatable. Today.
And I think I will go with that feeling today. And I think I will treat it as one of a kind.
And now . . . I will leave you to make your choice.
But before you do . . . take five minutes out of your day (if you please) and read this piece from the ancient Hebrew writings: Psalm 104. You’ll be glad you did.