One beach in particular was just breathtaking. We ended up there on one of the warmest days of the holidays and swam and played in the sea without wetsuits. Apparently the beach, Barafundle Bay is one of the top 12 in the World and we didn't even have to leave the country to get there.
After a few hours the tide began to creep up the beach. The gradient of the sand was such that there was a steep-ish bank and a ridge of sand about 30' or so from our camp.
Wouldn't it be cool, we thought, if we could create a massive sandcastle at the top of the ridge that would withstand the waves and allow the kids to STAND on top of it? The kids were too busy playing in the waves (and failing to save a long-since abandoned sandcastle from being swallowed up by the sea). But the adults in our group got to work.
The spot at the top of the sand ridge was chosen and digging implements assembled. I don't know if you have had first hand experience of this, but adults can quickly build an impressively huge sandcastle without children getting in the way. We had a system. We had plastic spades. A common goal. Five of us chucked the sand on, and one stood on top and compressed the sand down, flattening it layer by layer and making it strong enough to support the weight of the 8 children we collectively own.
Within half an hour it stood imposing and strong on the beach. It wasn't an ornate or decorative thing, but it was fit for purpose, topped with a large flat sandy platform to accommodate 16 feet (maybe more- if everyone huddled up like penguins). The tide was still a few feet away and we still had time to save ourselves. Yay!
I scrambled up to join the bigger children. I pulled the smaller kids up one at a time. It was a squash. But it didn't matter because no one stayed long. There were still holes in the sand to be dug. And seaweed to collect. And it's far more thrilling to climb up a massive sandcastle then immediately jump down again than to simply stand atop it and wait for Sandcastle Armageddon.
I didn't try it.
Once up there I stayed. Initially this was to pluck the smaller members of our group from the jaws of the approaching waves. But pretty soon (probably due to OCD-related reasons) it swapped and became a battle of wills in my head. If I get off of this thing before the sea washes over the top of it, then the sea will win. I don't want the sea to win. Therefore I will stay here.
When the sea is only a few feet away, but those few feet are slopey, waiting for the tide can take a lonnnnnngggg time.
Sometimes there were 5 or 6 of us up there. Sometimes I was alone. Although the sun was still shining, it was dropping in the sky and lack of movement made me shiver. The constant scrambling up and down of many small feet dislodged slabs of sand from the sides, so I patted them back in again. And waited for the end.
I was cold. And horribly sandy. If I could only get down and rinse off in the sea I could get dry and warm and maybe there was some hot water left for TEA?
But that would involve getting down, and then the sea would win.
By the time the waves reached the foot of the castle, some of the kids had got too cold to be wet and were already back in clean, dry clothes. Those left ran up the castle wall and waited for the structure to collapse.
But Armageddon was still a while off yet. We had built the sandcastle pretty high. The game of choice changed from climb up sandcastle and immediately jump down into sand, to climb up sandcastle and immediately jump back down into sea. It looked fun. But if I tried it, that would involve getting down, and then the sea would win.
So I froze a bit longer as the waves slowly eroded our fortress and (rather excitingly) flowed over the ridge and back towards our camp, leaving us stranded on our artificial island.
After another 10 minutes or so the next wave washed over the entire sandy platform, and the game was over. The sandcastle had gone, but we had WON!!
The remaining islanders washed off in the sea and rejoined our group to a round of applause. When we turned to leave, all that was left was a flat expanse of sea and sand with only a broken spade handle suggesting anything had happened.
OK. F/Fwd to this Sunday and we are in church. Singing a song I've never heard before. Part of it went:
You are everything you've promised,
your faithfulness is true
When we're desperate for your presence,
All we need is you
I really struggled to sing this. Not just because it was unfamiliar, but because it wasn't true. At that point in time, if I had the chance to itemise the things I was desperate for I would have said:
1. For my in-box to be empty
2. For the rain to hold off so the 4 loads of washing I did yesterday can dry
3. For the children to be head-lice free (a process I embarked on this morning which took the best part of an hour and a half and resulted in 3 of us being half an hour late for church, and probably the reason why I'm not desperate for anything else right now).
What's wrong with me?
Then I remembered the beach. And some other things too.
If I can:
• waste an hour and a half of my life sitting like a pixie on top of a pile of compressed sand in order to win a self-created mind game with the Atlantic Ocean
• complain to HMRC via repeated recorded delivery mail over 4 years, 2 MPs and several house moves until they finally lose interest in me and my alleged 'overpayment'
• find 90 seconds every single day to breed dragon pairs and collect fake coins
Then surely I demonstrate my capacity for stubbornness and persistence which can be channelled into something that means something. I just need to be obstinate about things that matter and not give up praying about stuff when it doesn't happen right away.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you should go to a friend's house at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don't have any food for him!’ And suppose your friend should answer from inside, ‘Don't bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.’ Well, what then? I tell you that even if he will not get up and give you the bread because you are his friend, yet he will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For those who ask will receive, and those who seek will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks. (Luke 11, 5-10)
Just say an individual wave got disheartened from crashing into a huge sandcastle then just gave up? A single wave dislodges and rearranges several hundred thousand particles of sand and nothing more. But wave after wave after wave can do this.
And Play in the Sand