While visiting the beach, have you ever, over the period of an entire day, really looked at the changes in nature that take place right in front of your eyes? We can carry out such an exercise anywhere since nature is all around us, but at the beach, with its clarity and wide open panorama of earth, sea and sky, it is really striking. So, how many of us have ever really done this?
To make it really clear and fascinating, we need to put the I-phones away, the book down and the radio off and just pay close attention. In any twenty-four hour cycle the changes are beautiful and dramatic. I remember as a boy at Nags Head I did this occasionally. I was a very serious and pensive young man and I wanted to picture in my mind the wonders of God before my very eyes. It started with the sunrise, the continued late morning, then afternoon before dusk and, finally, on a moonlit night. We can do this regardless of weather, but on a bright shiny day the color changes are so clear that we know we are beholding something special.
The sunrise starts things off for the day. It's cool with a briny taste to the air which lightly salts the lips, but refreshing in a different sort of way. First, the dark sky lightens to a dark, then light purple and gray before moving into the pleasing pastels of pink, then an orange or red before yellow. As the sun begins to rise out of the sea, things come to life. The sandfiddlers on the beach are on their morning search for food as are the birds. The smaller ones work the water line looking for bubbles, the sign of life in the wet sand below, while the larger ones, the big gulls, osprey and pelicans either dive or snatch fish unlucky enough to be spotted in the ocean below. Those fish have been focused instead on smaller fish like menhadin, racing to escape a similar fate.
Moving later into the morning with the sun fully emerged and climbing, the sky shows baby blue against the glare of the sun and all life emerges, including humans coming to the beach. It's too bad they've missed that special early morning moment but there will be other days.
As afternoon comes and the sun starts its descent back toward the earth, or so it seems, the blue sky turns deeper and the sea breeze brings cooling relief from the heat with its onshore flow. The sea responds by picking up a chop, with the foaming tops of the waves contrasting beautifully to the deep blue ocean. And then comes sunset which isn't so clear from the beach but if seen from higher elevation, particularly on an inhabited sand bar like the Outer Banks, is gorgeous dropping into waters of the protected, tranquil sound. The beautiful colors return, competing very well with that of early morning.
Finally, dusk turns to night and if it's the right time on the calendar, the moon replaces the daytime sun as it then rises from the sea, casting it's soft light on the sandy shore while shimmering in ripples across the lightly rising and falling ocean swells. When dark enough, the heavens literally open up above clear and bright, for the dark ocean offers no obstacle to a magnificent view. It is breathtaking and clearly shows, as the long day draws to a close, that the earth's Creator, the same Creator who made each of us, is the only perfect builder of what was created for us to use, protect and nurture.
What does that really mean to us? Well, it should be pretty simple. It means that we need to listen carefully to what He asks and respond appropriately. And if we truly stop, look and listen, the very observations we made on that long but special day, will give us the answers.
How did I come by these views? It's easy, it came about from "Summers at Old Nags Head." Although those days were long ago for me, anyone can come to the same conclusion today if they follow the same process. It truly was amazing for me and it will be for you, too.