I took my coffee and bagel to the beach this morning.
I sat in the car for a while and read a psalm.
I read a psalm in the car park amongst the muddy puddles and potholes overlooking the marshes bedraggled from high tides and storms. On the shoreline the white birds sat in a blazing row, wet wings a-flap like prayer flags in the wind. Long before the sun broke through the lumpy grey sky the heavens declare the glory of God. Well before the words, when no speech is heard, small moments of glory hopped like sparrows in the cover of the hawthorn hedge. Reed buntings swung on stems of grass then rose to the skies with a chorus of song; a chorus like words to the ends of the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
I went to the beach because I needed to blow away the cobwebs, as the saying goes: to clear my head, gets some perspective, to exorcise some crazy phantoms of the mind.
I had friends when I was a child and their home was hundreds of years old. Half timbered and sow’s blood pink it stood on the cross roads in the village with the red brick manor house, the old mill and the bridge over the Gipping river. They teased me those friends, that the cobwebs between the exposed beams on the crooked upstairs landing were the only thing holding the old house up. And I almost believed them. Ancient cobwebs, strong as any surveyors underpinning, the only thing stopping these ancient timbers and red tile roof tumbling to the ground.
The cobwebs are not holding the house up.
As the cold gusts blew away the cobwebs there on the beach, the word of God moved into the freshly dusted, light filled space, exchanging lies for the startling truth. Obsessive worries of the not-good-enough days replaced with reassurance of ultimate value and worth. Outside-looking-in loneliness exchanged for reassurances of belonging and a call that still stands. Confusions smoothed and unfurled in the sweeping wind. Hope and love restored, belief in hope and love restored. Discouragements and obstacles that looked huge on the horizon diminished in size on a seascape horizon under a great open sky.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
Today is the day when I pushed a metaphor to the limits of meaning, blowing away the cobwebs down there on the beach, making a soul space to hear God again.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight.