Soul Retreat

The sea stirs my heart and brings joy to my soul!

We’ve been going to the beach in winter for at least a few days for many years. My birthday is in February and a beach trip has always been “the” perfect gift. Then a few years ago, my husband and I retired. That first retirement February, we came to the beach for a few days as we had in the past. As we walked and talked, we realized that the beach was a place of retreat for us, and since we no longer had the same responsibilities, we might be able to spend a bit more time here. We decided then that we would create an annual tradition of spending the month of February on the beach – a “soul” retreat – and a celebration of relaxation.

You might ask why the beach in February? There is something particularly special about the winter beach. The vibe is totally different – there are no squeals of delight while families splash on the shore. Instead it is much more meditative, quiet, even somewhat bleak. It is perfect for prayer, meditation, restoration, and relaxation!

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

The author writes in Where’d You Go, Bernadette, “”I think my favorite part of Antarctica (I substitute “beach” here) is just looking out.” “You know why?” Dad asked. “When your eyes are softly focused on the horizon for sustained periods, your brain releases endorphins. It’s the same as a runner’s high.”” So yes, I’m pretty sure that I’m in endorphin heaven on the beach although I am far from being a runner!

But there is more! When my eyes are “softly focused on the horizon” I am reminded of the creative, inventive, and restorative power of God.  The sea, both powerful and tamed, seems to have no boundaries and yet it is fully contained by the trough scooped out by the hand 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

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!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

And this is my prayer – as Paul prayed for the Ephesians –

I pray that out of his glorious riches [God] may strengthen [me] with power through his Spirit in [my] inner being, so that Christ may dwell in [my] heart through faith. And I pray that [I], being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [I] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

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
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