We camped a lot when our children were young. We had a little 13-foot fiberglass Scamp (purchased when there was just us two) and then a pop-up camper. We wrestled the kids out to the Hart-Montague Rail Trail, plying them with doughnuts halfway into the ride. Abby much preferred to tear around the campground and still sports a humongous knee scar from a bad tumble.
No matter how hard our children wrestle with us, they just want to fall into our arms when they hurt.
We also climbed the dunes up and then down to the water. And climbed and climbed and the water was always just beyond the next rise. And we’d roll in the sand on the way down.
I thought about that this weekend as I put one foot in front of the other, a toe length at a time, squeaking sand beneath. Up a very low incline from water, up the dune to the path. And my husband stopped and turned around because he could hear me gasping for air.
I climbed higher and easier and faster fifteen years ago.
And I wanted to be young again. To run up and throw myself down, arms and legs twirling, hair flopping through the sand as I rolled free.
I’d been aching, yearning all summer for the sand and the water. And I felt a catch in my breath and in my heart this weekend when I caught sight of the beach after a long hike through the back dunes. The light at the end of the dappled path dazzled me. The lake was alive. Beckoning me. I quickened my pace and shed my trappings and hurled myself into its arms.
I wrestled with the waves, leaping them, battling them, gulping great gulps. And when I tired of that, I threw myself backward into them and went limp. And instead of swallowing me, they carried me. Up and down and up again. And I could feel the fatigue and stress and pain and fear ebb out and away toward the horizon. And I watched white clouds feather across the blue coverlet and felt the heat beat on my face.
And then I treaded water, and I noted green meeting green–trees, dune grass, water–across the sparkling sand expanse. And I thought about things like shifting sand and grains of sand and stones and brokenness and battering of water against hardness that yields a softened beauty.
And I felt young again. And I didn’t want to leave. And I stayed until long after my hands wrinkled and bumps formed on my arms. And then I threw myself into the sand and buried my toes deep into its coolness.
Yet I couldn’t shake a faint sense of foreboding that something hard waited around the next bend. That I would wrestle again.
And I realized that strength comes in the climb and in the wrestling.
And that no matter how much I wrestle with my Daddy, I can ultimately collapse into His arms, knowing He will lift me above the struggle and the pain.
And that He beckons me to do just that.
Like a child.
I see a Michigan mitten tilted ever so slightly to the right in the tree canopy. Dennis doesn’t see it at all. Am I crazy?