From inside the car, safely enclosed in glass and metal, all was calm. All was peaceful, the sun sinking silently below the horizon.
But outside, violent gusts of an onshore wind crumbled set after set of waves before me. Layer upon layer of sand was peeled back and a million tiny separate grains scurried over the newly poured dunes towards the parking lot.
This was not how I expected it to be when I thought about the peace held for me along the edge of the Pacific.
Nope. As I sat here, curled up in the sad excuse for a blanket I’d brought, ambient noise of any kind was drowned out by the hollow whirring in my ears, like the muted result of a forceful breath across the top of a bottle. Every once in a while though, a car’s radio or the squeal of a young and excited voice would break through and remind me that, in fact, I wasn’t alone.
The granulated particles of shell and rock stung my face in a thousand tiny pinpricks, and that blanket I’d brought along—it really was more of a small sheet–billowed up with air behind me and fought to escape my grasp.
Stubborn and frustrated, I was going to sit here, sit here in the sand and fight the resistance of the wind and the pain and the freezing reality of being completely unprepared. I was going to ignore the violence and the volume, so I could watch the damn sunset slowly contrasting everything in its descent. Beautiful, slowing for no one, yet taking its sweet time and all the while, completely quiet.
But the wind, oh that wind! It lapped up all around me and turned my blanket into a cape of sorts over and over again, sending chills up my spine every time I pulled it back down and across my shoulders.
I thought of caped crusaders and how valiant they always looked standing with fists on hips, facing the wind. Do their capes ever pull away and nearly choke them as the winds lift them towards the sky? I bet not…
These days though, it doesn’t take much to make me feel both heroic and simultaneously completely foolish and unprepared. Little battles are won every minute of every day as my mind scurries away like these grains of sand before me.
But here on the beach, as I struggled with my “cape,” I felt the fatigue wash over me of months, years maybe, spent tilting my head directly into the wind and soldiering forward against it.
And I felt physically and emotionally raw, emptied of all resolve and completely exposed in this forceful gale.
So there I sat there for a while, hoping my mood would change, that my prayers and internal dialogue would be heard and answered with a ceasefire that never came.
Instead, a thought.
What if this was the same wind that tucked its way into a ship’s sails? The same force that propels the vessel forward and pushes it along its journey, if only allowed to do so. That wind itself is the same that stung my face, chilled my spine, and threatened to steal my thinnest blanket, and yet, was simply reframed to be harnessed and used. No stinging, no fight.
And then, a verse.
“…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Suffering, reframed to be harnessed and used. Never ever wasted.
Ah, there’s that peaceful resting place.
By now, the sun had completely disappeared. As the sky’s orange, yellow, and light pinky hues grew paler and darkened, I wondered if I’d been better off watching the whole thing from behind the protection of the glass and metal.
“Sure, I’d have been warmer, “ I thought as my ears tingled from the cold and grew red. “Certainly, more comfortable,” I continued to myself. As I wiped my face, dozens of tiny granulated particles fell to the ground. They had stuck lightly to my makeup in the crevices where the sides of my nose meet my cheeks.
It was not the calm, peaceful setting I’d expected or even hoped for, but assumed I’d be guaranteed. Quite the opposite.
But it was a perfect sunset, and if not for the waves and the chill and the unwavering, unrelenting wind, how else would the wind have reached my sails?
Listen to Catch The Wind by Donovan here.