Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Sermon On The Beach
by Linda Loegel
Maneuvering through narrow, crowded streets in a Southern California beach community, I finally enter an open area leading onto the beach itself. A sidewalk runs the length of the beach separated from the sand by a three-foot concrete wall. Beyond the sand lies the Pacific Ocean, its pulsing waves rushing in to greet the shore, pulling back, and rushing in again and again. White seagulls squawk overhead, anticipating a morsel of hot dog or potato chip dropped onto the warm sand.
The September air is warm even as the day wanes. I have come to watch the sunset. I am not alone as I savor the ocean view, for around me rock music blares from a boom box, children laugh as they build sand castles on the beach, and everywhere people are talking in a variety of languages. I inhale the mingled aromas of sunscreen lotion, barbecues, and ocean air. On the sidewalk, an assorted assemblage of humanity on parade passes by--people of every color and every age in all manner of dress or undress and sporting a variety of hairstyles, from purple spikes to bald heads. Some travel on foot, some on wheels.
A steady stream of wheels rushes past me, most of the riders having no regard for foot pedestrians. One young man speeds down the sidewalk on rollerblades, ski poles in hand, turning the walk into his own personal slalom. A middle-aged woman tests her balance on roller skates while her fearless young grandson zooms past on rollerblades. Young people on skateboards slither in and out of the passing crowd, testing their balance and agility while trying everyone else's patience. Between the wheels rumbling along the cement, the happy squeals of children, and the animated talking of adults, the noise is constant.
Before long, the sun sinks to within a few inches of the surface of the water and the frenzied activity gradually slows. As the sun continues its downward slide into the sea, the quiet now becomes electrifying. When there is no more than an orange pinpoint sitting above the horizon, all movement and sound ceases as the onlookers stand transfixed in silence.
At the sun's final descent into the ocean, one person raises her hands to clap, then another person, and another, until the sound of applause explodes across the beach.
It wasn't a cathedral and the people weren't dressed in their Sunday best, but I've never seen a finer appreciation of God's gifts than that one moment when spontaneous thanks were offered up to the One who made the sunset.
Linda Loegel lives in El Cajon, CA, with her husband, Fred. Her two recently published books are Bumps Along the Way about a 10,000 mile trip they took, and If You Don’t Like Worms, Keep Your Mouth Shut, about growing up in Vermont in the 1940s, before TV and computers.
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