When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup
In every hole the sea came up
Till it could come no more.
~Robert Louis Stevenson
I’ve been down beside the sea.
Thanks to the shared space of some very generous cousins, my family and I have been here and there along the northern California coast over the last couple of weeks. And as I walked barefoot along the shore, wet sand cool beneath my feet and foamy wavelets tickling my toes, I thought of this little poem of Robert Louis Stevenson’s over and over.
It just fit so well. Something about the sea seems to bring out the childlike in all ages. Everywhere inland we went, people came attached to their iPhones and iPads—myself not always excepted, I’m afraid. Once I saw a threesome sitting in a taqueria at a table together, but not talking—each one separately absorbed in his or her iPhone.
But not beside the sea. There I saw few if any electronics. Instead, both children and young adults built sandcastles or dug holes for the “sea to come up.” Wobble-legged toddlers clung to mommies’ hands and splashed delightedly in the lapping surf. Children laughed and boogie-boarded, faces beaming and hair beaded with ocean dew. Daddies chased and played with their little ones.
I especially loved watching the children. So artless they are in their joy in God’s creation, playing tag with the chasing waves, watching the seagulls, burying their feet in the sand.
|Sisters on the beach|
It made me want to be more like that—free to delight in God’s goodness and beauty reflected in what He has made. Focused more on being than always pushing to do—especially when that doing often isn’t even productive at all, like when I get sucked into constant Facebook browsing and email checking.
Even though I’m back from vacation now and the to-do list is already looming high, I want to remember those little children at the seashore.
And that I’m supposed to be like them.