I have lived in towns along the Mighty Mississippi the majority of my life. I have known my entire life the importance of waterways for transportation and commerce. I have watched barges and boats move supplies and products up and down the river. I have visited the Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, Iowa.
Lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers are not new to me.
Oceans are different.
A year and a half ago, we traveled to Portland, Oregon to visit some friends. During our trip, we spent a say in Seaside, OR. As the name would indicate, the town is located on the Pacific.
The weather that day was overcast, the norm for Oregon, and 75*. Many locals were talking about how chilly it was, to me the day was perfect.
I have a love/hate relationship with beaches and pools. I love to be near the water but cannot be in the sun. I do not turn into a golden lovely tan, I burn, blister, peel, repeat.
The overcast day was perfect.
I encouraged (forced) my then 16-year-old son to remove his shoes and stand in the water with me.
I find the ocean to be soothing. It calms my soul in a way that I did not know was possible.
As cheesy as it sounds, this is what I explained to him: This water you are standing in is not a lake or a pond. This water wrapping around your ankles touches Alaska. It touches Russia. China. Australia. South America. This water, right here, right now, is part of something so much bigger than us here on this beach.
As I said this, I felt tears prick my eyes, as I am fairly sentimental at times.
This past week, my husband and I took our honeymoon to San Diego, where we, of course, visited the ocean.
I cannot explain the impact that the Pacific has on me. I did not swim, surf, or sunbathe.
I sat, I looked, I walked along the edge. I took so many pictures. I cried.
The water soothes me. Even being near it is like a soft blanket for my soul.
It causes me to stop, to think, to be still.
Stillness has always been hard for me. I like some background noise, some sort of activity.
Sitting by the ocean is different for me in a way that is so hard to describe. I feel small, insignificant, while also feeling peace and as if I am part of a bigger plan. It is the ultimate reminder of just how big God is, and how much we don’t know about the world.
Our friend who was traveling with us is from the area. He explained to me that over time, people become accustomed to the ocean being there and that it loses some of the grandeur. He said that he visits the beach more now, as a visitor than he ever did as a resident.
That makes sense to me, as we become accustomed to our surroundings.
I find myself praying that I never reach that place. I never want to be complacent about the awesome parts of this world.
As we continue to travel and see more of what the world has to offer, I pray that the ocean, the mountains, the forests, and everywhere in between still have the ability to take my breath away.
I want to hold on to that feeling, to be wowed, to feel small.