Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Memories that Last a Lifetime

Everyone has their favorite place to go for a vacation - the mountains, the desert, amusement parks, resorts, spas, even other countries.  All of these are unique and special in their own way.  I'm sure they all offer fun and excitement in different forms.  But for me there is no better place in the world than the beach for escape and relaxation.  There is something about the ocean with the sight and sound of the waves that creates a sense of peace and calm within me.  When I'm there I feel I can cast out all of my problems and worries, then watch them wash away with the tide.  The sun, the sand, and the water have a healing effect on both my mind and my heart.  I always leave the beach with a renewed hope and a feeling of somehow being cleansed.  It is a powerful place that is and always has been a form of therapy for me.  "The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea." -Isak Dinesen

My trips to the beach began as family vacations when I was a small child.  I remember going to Daytona Beach with my parents and grandparents.  My fondest memories of those trips are of riding the ferris wheel, playing putt-putt and skeeball, and watching saltwater taffy being made at the candy shop on the boardwalk.  I also remember my grandfather sitting by the pool or the beach wearing shorts that went down to his knees, socks up to his mid-calf, and tennis shoes.  I remember that everyone used a suntan lotion called No-Ad because it came in huge quantities and was cheap.  I remember swimming in the motel pool until I was so tired I could hardly stand up and walking down the sidewalk to eat at the Steak-n-Shake.  "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." -Jacques Cousteau

My trips to the beach continued into my teen years when my mother would take one (or more) of my friends and me to Jekyll Island for the day.  We always bought a huge jar of dill pickles, ate them on the way, then drank the juice.  We left in the morning, usually took a lunch with us, spent the day at the beach, then drove back home.  Sometimes we would visit the historical homes in the area, but mainly we sunbathed, played in the sand, and swam in the ocean.  I didn't realize then how special those days were, but they made a lasting impression on me.  "Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone." -Anonymous

When I was old enough, after high school and into college, I went to the beach with my friends.  We did what all teenagers and young adults do when they're away from home - tried to act like we were much older than we actually were!  Once I was married and Trey came along, we started our own family trips to the beach.  Over the years we settled into a yearly trip to Panama City where we made new friends who are a part of my memories now.  These trips continue today, and Emily is now going with us.  My memories of these family trips are of first watching Trey and his friends play and have fun and now of watching Emily do the same things in the same place.  Together we have created memories riding go-carts, having low-country boils, riding the banana boat, and doing karaoke on the deck.  "We are tied to the ocean.  And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it - we are going back from whence we came." -JFK

During all of these trips I have seen the ocean and the beach hundreds of times.  I have witnessed many sunsets, sunrises, full moons, and storms.  But I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of it all or at the joy I feel every time I am there.  I recently returned from another trip to the beach where I experienced all of the same feelings of peace, calm, hope, and a renewal of spirit.  I sat and watched the sun set over the ocean and was in awe of the unbelievable picture it created.  At that last moment when the sun seems to disappear into the ocean it's as if the horizon catches on fire as the sky is filled with a burst of yellow, orange, and red.  Later that same night, I sat on the beach and watched a gorgeous full moon rising in the opposite direction.  It lit up the entire beach and created shimmers and sparkles across the ocean that looked like stars dancing on the water.  In those two moments it was impossible for me to comprehend that some people don't believe in God, because only He could create something so beautiful and amazing that it brings tears to your eyes.   "He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness." Job 26:10

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