Confession. Katherine, Elizabeth, and I didn’t go to church last Sunday, at least not in the traditional sense. Together at the beach on the day before school officially began for all of us on Monday, we decided to visit the strand itself. We told ourselves that we were going worship the Creator in one of His most beautiful and soul stirring “cathedrals,” the beach.

That’s what we did too. To assuage my conscience, I stuck two church magazines in my bag and read one of them cover to cover. As we traipsed along the boardwalk, Katherine suggested that we talk about how grateful we were for all of our many blessings, and right away we began enumerating them: the ocean, the sea birds, the sun, the pretty flowers along the sandy path, family, friends, sisterhood, jobs that we enjoy, energy to do our jobs, the laughter of children, health, the sound of music, their granny (my mother), laughter, and a long list of other things that we thought of. We also discussed how memory itself can be a blessing (depending on what you’re remembering), and we decided to store up the memories of our time together to take out and savor at a later time…when we were feeling stressed or sad.

After about an hour, I decided to go for a walk, and along the way I saw a couple of interesting sights that are still strong images in my mind. First, I spied a young pregnant woman wearing a white bikini. Yes, it was a bikini. What attracted my attention was her calm demeanor and the way she was sitting, almost in what I’d call a yoga position. Then she did the unthinkable. She lifted a cigarette to her lips and inhaled! Gee whiz. What was she thinking??? Doesn’t she realize that when she takes a little puff her baby does too? Feeling perturbed, I looked towards the ocean and saw another mother, this one middle aged. She was standing a few inches in the ocean holding the hand of her teenage son. As I got closer, I could see that he had some challenges, and her obvious love for him touched my heart.

Soon I turned back towards our chairs, and as I glanced to my right, I saw my niece Katherine. Walking briskly, she seemed so determined and intense that I almost hesitated to interrupt her. When I called her name, she turned to me with a relieved, grateful look and said, “Oh Aunt Jayne, I’ve been looking for you. I went walking to clear my mind, and I have no idea where I am.” She had asked two lifeguards and the cute Lemon Quench guy for help but was still “lost.” Finally, she’d prayed that she’d see me, and almost right away, she heard me call her name. Okay, I know some of you skeptics out there might say it was a lucky coincidence. Katherine and I know different.

Walking together, we spied Elizabeth calmly reading, unaware of the drama that had taken place. The three of us munched on Red Delicious apples and drank some cool, clear water as we chatted about the new beginnings all of us had in store the next day. Then reluctantly we packed up our stuff and left for home.  It’s not the way we usually spend our Sundays, but the three of us feel fine about it. More keenly aware of our blessings and of the power of prayer, we’re glad we spent our day at the beach cathedral.

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