As a child, my family and I used to spend a week every summer at Bethany Beach in Delaware. When the day came for us to leave, I would linger on the back patio and stare at the ocean and beach, trying to absorb every last drop of sight and sound to take back with me. I hated leaving.

This past month for almost 2 weeks, David, Grace, Ben and I returned to Southport, ME, where for the last two summers, I’ve been invited to serve as a guest preacher for All-Saints-by-the-Sea. Unlike last summer, our trip this go-round included the four of us getting our COVID swab tests at a nearby community clinic and self-isolating until we were cleared; wearing our facemasks wherever we went; and preaching to a video camera, instead of the summer congregation, to be included in the worship video.

Once strange and foreign concepts — nasal swab testing?! facemasks?! preaching to a video camera?!  — these have now become all too familiar in our COVID world. Yet amidst this ongoing strangeness, there was the familiar rising and falling of the tide, the sound of seagulls flying overhead, the smell of saltwater in the air. And when the day came for the four of us to leave, I found my eyes lingering on the ocean once again, just as in my childhood, not wanting to leave … the waves … that sound … that air …

I wonder, what it is about being by the ocean, that is so life-giving and healing? I’d love to hear from you, your own thoughts, if you find this to be true, for yourself. For me, it has something to do with touching timelessness. Something to do with the saltwater that runs in my own blood — a certain kinship, if you will. Something to do with the same feeling I get when I look up into the night sky and am able to see the stars. Time by the ocean gives me sense that — whatever is going on in my life and in our world, today  — there is something More … something greater, wiser and bigger, that has Seen it All … lived through it and despite it, All … that holds us All …

May the God who created earth, wind and waters; sun, moon and stars; who breathes us into being each and every day of our lives; and to whom our last breath will return … May this same God remind us and inspire us that whatever hardships or challenges face us today, we are not alone. May we be open to the ways in which God works Her healing power in and through us, every day, and be encouraged to make the most of the precious time here on earth that we have been given.


Even as I write this, I am aware of the destruction and fear that ocean and wind can wreak, as well, and ask for your prayers for all those whose lives are being impacted by the latest hurricane to hit our country’s shores.