For my birthday a few weeks ago, my family and I set out to fulfill a long-time wish of mine: To watch the sunrise and the sunset over the water on the same day. We left on a Friday afternoon and headed to the east coast of Florida. We stayed overnight at a motel and woke up early to get to the beach in Cocoa in order to see the sun peek over the horizon. We stepped onto the beach wearing jackets and dodged the waves as high tide rolled in to the shore. As we waited, a pair of elderly women out for their morning walk told us that there was too much fog for us to see the sunrise. They were right, and we already knew that. But we stayed a little longer to be sure. The clouds did obscure the sun, but we spent a little more time on the beach before returning to our room.
After packing up, we headed to the west coast and spent the rest of the day in Clearwater, waiting to watch the sunset. The white sugary sand of the Gulf of Mexico beaches always appeals to me, reminding me of seashore visits from childhood. But the sunset didn’t provide us with any more delight than the sunrise. Again the cloudiness and fog hid the sun from our view, and we didn’t get the longed-for sunset. We played on the beach for a while and then returned to our motel, where my husband took our boys swimming in the heated pool.
I will always have the story of visiting two beaches in one day. But we didn’t see the sunrise over the water; nor did we see the sunset over the water. We’d organized our plans and booked our rooms and made the drives. But the weather–completely out of our control–didn’t cooperate with our plans.
On one hand, I didn’t get what I wished for. Not exactly. And if that thrill, that experience, were the ultimate goal, I’d consider myself disappointed.
But those experiences–much as I value investing in them and creating them–aren’t my ultimate treasure.
From that weekend, I was afforded memories and family togetherness. I was gifted with the special-ness of watching my children play in the water and enjoy the beach, running into the waves with wide grins and with abandon, despite cool temperatures.
I was given the blessing of my younger son throwing himself on the motel bed beside me and crying out, “Cuddle! Cuddle with the birthday girl!”
And it’s those pieces, those layers built onto the foundation of my most important relationships, that are my treasures.
During our trip, I spotted this sign in the parking lot of an antiques shop. We didn’t visit the store, but I did insist that my husband stop the car so I could snap a picture.
I knew this sign had a message worth considering. And this is the message I’ve taken from it: In my life, I don’t want to treasure up things but people, knowing and being known in fellowship with the immortal souls who sit with me around the supper table at night.