(Something I wrote for the church newsletter in California after our womens' retreat.)
There's something about the beach. I don't get there very often, even though I now live much closer to a beach than I ever have before. The infinity of the sky, the ocean, and the sand is overwhelming. The expanse of the ocean ahead, in contrast with the tiny grains of sand at my feet, impossible to count. The push and pull of the waves, and the sound of waves drowning out my own voice. I sit there, sifting through the sand with my hand, watching the birds go after their catch, singing or shouting to God knowing He hears me above the roar. I love to enjoy the beach with others, but for me something unique happens when I'm there alone.
I felt that as I walked down to the beach early on the Sunday morning of Selah, our women's retreat. I heard a tiny groan escape my throat as I saw the shore and smiled , so thankful to feel a connection to the depth of God.
That morning at the beach was part of a weekend of reconnecting, allowing God to claim my soul as a dwelling place for Himself again. He spoke to me about how He is my shelter, my refuge, my source through any tumult I face. As I sat in solitude among the other women there, I remembered what it feels like to really trust Him, to know him as the one who provides for me.
One of the readings we were given on the retreat was an article on solitude by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen tells of St. Anthony, who spent years of solitude in the desert: “He had become so Christlike, so radiant with God's love, that his entire being was ministry.” As I read about St. Anthony, I was reminded that my entire being will be ministry only as I allow myself that time in solitude. In solitude, I leave behind the finite life to sit in the expanse of God, the one who truly knows me.