Riches in secret places
I think I’ve blogged before about my “training sessions” down to the beach – every day that I can – in an endeavour to strengthen my back and legs: 41 wooden steps down onto the beach, and then a series of very steeply banked stones and then shingle, sliding like an avalanche, with my sturdy stick to steady me. Quite a gradient, and even more heavy-going on the return back up again. I’ve learnt not to look up at what seems like a mountain from the bottom, but to look at my feet, and concentrate on taking one step at a time (remembering my Pilates lessons, and using my deeply hidden tummy muscles!), and then at the ascent of the wooden steps, to concentrate on counting loudly under my breath, blocking everything else out
My reward and motivation is to be able to walk on the sand at the bottom, for that indescribably different sensation through the soles of my shoes that sand brings, rather than pavement or even grass. And its why I’m an avid reader of tide tables nowadays, so that I can get the time of day right for low tide – more difficult with the shorter days, though in the summer it was lovely to go down sometimes under the stars, with the moon making a shining path on the water.
One rainy, rather wild day recently, the time was right, and so I muffled up and battled my way against the wind down towards the sea, to discover an unrecognisable terrain, a totally unfamiliar beach, covered with derelict trailing tentacles of seaweed and broken cuttlefish bones. Mudrocks were now exposed, that had been covered by sand before, and a huge deep bank of small-pebbled shingle now covered the broad area of sand that had been from the end of the breakwaters stretching to the water. There were random mounds and hollows of pebbles and a surprising small and isolated almost vertical steep bank of fine white sand gleaming half way up the medium stoned part of the beach, looking like a discarded naked body flung over a cliff, in the dismal rain and murk of the day.
It was so disorientating, and I just couldn’t find any point of reference for a while. It felt ‘unsafe’ somehow, as though everything known and loved had been taken away, and I wanted to cry. As I started back up the beach, suddenly I recognised times in my life when it seemed everything familiar had been removed, nothing looked the same any more, and the desolation and ‘aloneness’ and fear of the vast unknown sought to overwhelm me. And then I sensed the Lord saying “Have you noticed how beautiful my stones are looking today?” and I focused on the large pebbles and stones I was climbing, and indeed the rain-washed stones were shining with colour like jewels, no longer dull and dusty. I stopped and marvelled at the treasure at my feet, which needed the rain to polish it, and thought of the words in Isaiah:
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD…….. who summons you by name.”
And I knew that He, who knows me as Susie, would be with me wherever I go, whatever is happening, showing me beauty and riches in unexpected dark places.