Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Looking in the Window: My Big Floppy Hat

This September, in Destin, Florida, when hurricane Ike hit Texas we were fortunate. Only winds strong enough to blow sand a quarter of a mile inland and a tide seven feet above normal blasted the area. Shortly after the storm the sun shone brightly on a beach tinted yellow by the waves that had crashed over it. Jelly fish, some in pieces, others entire blobs with their tentacles still in tact, cluttered it like monsters out of a horror movie. Other unidentifiable items, which appeared to be pieces of bricks, cement, and rusty iron, had washed up from who knows where.

This morning as we walked by the sea my husband, Rick, pointed out roofing shingles that had blown off the roofs of condos on our right and underpinnings that had pulled away from several buildings. Not a pretty sight, but we were grateful. The eye of the hurricane and the worst of its outer bands had missed us. Some children ran around us with their buckets and shovels, others charged into the Gulf on rafts while teens threw a football and adults sunbathed or strolled. I’ve heard that dead jelly fish with tentacles in tact still can sting. Because of that rumor and the debris, I stepped tentatively, listened to Rick tell me about another house that had lost some of its trim.

Within thirty minutes the sun beat down on my head, prompted me to put on the big floppy hat that I carried. Its wide brim blew against my face, suddenly blocked out everything except a powder blue sky, a sandbar in the distance surrounded by calm, clear, sparkling, emerald green water serenely stretching as far as I could see. I forgot the rubbish from the storm, the busyness of the beach, even the jelly fish and stood in awe of God’s glory. “Rick, stop looking over there at the damage. Your missing the view,” I said.

How many times had I missed the view because I’d been caught in a routine that included bad news from the newspaper and television, everyday aggravations, such as our recent gas shortage, and problems I tried to solve on my own rather than turning them over to God? Even though seeing the Gulf and the bay in Destin, Florida, always takes away my breath, God has his hand on so many sights all round me wherever I am if I pause, take the time to see them. From now on I’m going to put on an imaginary big floppy hat no matter where I am. Then I’ll witness God’s glory in the sunrise I sometimes see while swimming laps at a Cobb County, Georgia, pool. I’ll pause in the evening, take pleasure in the soft pink streaks the sunset paints across the sky. I’ll revel in the hope of a rainbow and find peace in a twinkling starry night. I’ll let this fall’s brilliant leaves of gold, red, and orange lift my spirits, and in the spring daffodils, yellow bells, dogwood trees, and azaleas will fill my heart with joy.

When I walk through my house I’ll stop by the red stained glass heart with the sunlight streaming through it creating a bright glow on my window and think of the wonderful time I had with my cousin from Canada the day she visited, gave it to me. I’ll pick up the vase my English professor had made for me right before he died and see his personality in the green and brown swirls, his favorite colors. I’ll remember how he encouraged me, shared his steadfast faith in God with me. When I sit in my love seat and gaze at the painting of a brown barn in white snow, I’ll give thanks for my childhood friend, who knows me so well, cares about me so much I know I can talk to her, trust her, and she won’t judge me. She painted it, gave it to me when I visited her one summer. As I glance in my foyer I’ll see wind chimes made of small porcelain white birds, a white candle holder with a delicate lace design, and a floating candle holder, all gifts that spark memories of good times shared with buddies. I’ll feel God’s blessings surrounding me and stand in awe of them.

Psalm 46: 10 - 11: “‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”