Soul Retreat

A picture of the sea, with sea oats in the forefront and a Spurgeon quote - pondering this quote on our retreat - we cannot exhaust the grace of God
Quote by Spurgeon

Comes so far, no more
The sea, deep, dark, powerful
Yet tempered by He who seeks
Our souls His great love to speak!

~Original 2022

The stark winter beach lends itself to a soul retreat!

Five years ago, my husband and I decided to take a month-long retreat annually. It is a birthday gift to myself, a time of renewal for both of us, and time to set aside the busyness of our lives to just be. Learning to “just be” is a challenge for this type-A personality.

Stepping by the sea
Soul therapy, Out then In
Learning to just be —

~Original 2022

We have chosen the beach as our refuge for these five years. And we have begun talking about changing it up in the future, but I have to say there is something about the “winter” beach that calls to me. Even on the gulf in Florida, the beach is somewhat bleak in February. The temperature varies widely, it might be cold as it is today, the mid-40s, or warm as it might be next week, mid-60s. There is little life on the winter beach, a few walkers like my husband and me, sometimes the occasional family on the weekend, sometimes, just the birds. It might be the stillness, the silence, with only the rhythm of the sea punctuating my thoughts, that resonate with me.

Within your temple, O God,
    we meditate on your unfailing love.
Like your name, O God,
    your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
    your right hand is filled with righteousness.

Psalm 48:9-10

Science supports choosing the beach as a place of retreat.

The color blue has been found by an overwhelming amount of people to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.

Richard Shuster, PsyD

The noises [ebb and flow of the ocean] — coupled with the visuals — activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is “responsible for slowing us down and allowing us to relax and feel more engaged.”

Sally Nazari, PsyD

The smell of the ocean breeze also contributes to your soothed state, which may have something to do with the negative ions in the air that you’re breathing in. These oxygen atoms have an extra electron and occur in places like waterfalls and the ocean.

Richard Shuster, PsyD

Of course, to some extent, we have been conditioned to relax on the beach because it is a vacation spot, a place where we shed our responsibilities for a time to read, walk, and play.

The repetitive sounds of the sea
Soothing, mesmerizing
Engaging the spirit
Humming melodies of the divine
Rich, harmonious praises
Beckoning, “Draw near”
The reflecting pool, an emerald sea
Mirroring recesses of the soul
Searing sunshine, purifying
Centering the inner self
Accepting the age-old invitation
“I will give you rest.”

~Original 2009

The beach speaks to me of the power and majesty of our God.

But there is more! When I soak in the majesty of the sea, its power, and depth, I am reminded of the creative, inventive, and restorative power of God.  I am always reminded that while the sea is powerful, even dangerous if not respected, its power bends to the will of God.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Psalm 93:3-4

[Jesus] arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men [his disciples] marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Matthew 8:26-27 NKJV

Even sand and the stars in the sky over the Gulf remind me of God. Imagine trying to count the grains of sand. Have you ever wondered if there are more grains of sand than stars in the sky? It’s been reported that researchers at the University of Hawaii calculated that there are roughly 7.5 x 10¹⁸ grains of sand on Earth. The European Space Agency says there are somewhere between 10²² and 10²⁴ stars in the universe. (See “One Fact a Day“). Sand, stars speak to God’s infinite nature, His infinite attributes and they draw my soul closer to Him as I ponder His transcendence! He has no limit – no limit to His wisdom, power, and grace!

O Worship the King

O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

O tell of his might and sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

O measureless Might, unchangeable Love,
whom angels delight to worship above!
Your ransomed creation, with glory ablaze,
in true adoration shall sing to your praise!

Robert Grant, 1833
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