A kaleidoscope of light flickers through the leaves above making shadow animals on the too hot car seats. This forest scene blurs with the increased speed of this ordinary mid-sized sedan. My anticipation growing with every turn of this curled highway. The heat of the sun threatening to melt the cheerful moods inside but it can not tear the smile from me. Bumper to bumper traffic seems to insight anger and violence from all in this line but it cannot taunt me. My mind has no room for any other thought and my heart is bursting with excitement. Today is beach day.
He has promised me the biggest wave of the day and I know he will make it happen. I know the sand will fill that annoying pocket at the base of my swim suit. When I strip to rinse the salt away little stubborn fragments of seaweed will be glued to my skin. I know My hair will be a unruly tempest and my skin will turn a mix of golden brown with red (depending on how much of my body I forgot to put sunscreen on). But I will be with Him and when we are together in the water nothing else matters.
Loving, warning shouts of “Be careful!” are echoing somewhere behind us as Dad and I race to see who can go under first. Our feet simultaneously smack recessing bubbles. It is always a tie. He never leaves me behind and always lets his presence be the foundation I charge the waves with.
Sunshine and giant wet foamed waves greet us today. Taunting us with their power and rolling height too big for my small frame. The other children dare not venture far from shore, past where their little child toes can safely touch the barely soggy sand. They dare not venture into the deep. But I, I am with my Father and with him I can swim the deep. I can run past the gazing eyes of these other children because he is with me.
Beside me to support. Beside incase I stumble and if need be, to lift me on his strong shoulders. Posting me there above the swells so I am not overwhelmed. When my my limbs tire and my lungs give way he will carry me. When the set waves come marching in I know we will face them together and catch the perfect ones to shore. Harnessing their strength and movement that scare lesser partners and keeps them from diving in where the stories are to be had.
The best stories are often these ones. The untrodden paths, held in the rooms guarded by fear and unknown. I will venture here with my Father. I will trudge onwards and outwards. Away from the safety of the shore. To find the perfect wave I will wait with him. Trusting his eyes and judgment.
Floating along the bobbing horizon my name is seen. Scripted on the crest of the perfect wave. Adrenaline pulses through the arms holding me transferring down every one of my limbs. Before he signals I know he has seen it. I know it is coming. My perfect wave.
His strong hands twist me, knotting my swim suite to hold me firm until the right time. Turning my back to him, his hands grasp my feet forming a launchpad for me to perch on and explode from. I must reach the speed of this rolling beast. Must kick and paddle and place my body in the exact spot to be accepted. To hide myself in her treacherous folds, trick her so she and I are the same and he will let me ride her track.
There is no fear here. Only possibility, freedom and hoards of adventures to be had.
The time has come and by my fathers strength I am shot into the heart of the beast. Echoes of his instruction and cheering are soon muffled to silence by the roaring of this turning wave. The movement changes, my body recognizing the struggle is over. The movement is no longer my own. I am one with this wave, taming her uncaged power.
The threat of potential failure is all around and at once I am alone in this water. Fear rears her unwanted face and threatens to overtake me. I will not converse with her. Will not give way to her musings and deadly whispers. My father has sent me in and he will not let me fail.
Sometimes though, fear is a thief. An unwanted intruder that steals hope and does all it can to steal joy.
This thief shows up and turns my emotions against me. Gripping my young heart as this churning water begins to leak down my lungs. My vision blurs as the feared outcome slowly becomes a reality. I might not make it to shore.
The once gentle hold of this she wave turns cold and menacing as I am silently pronounced intruder and promptly cast asunder. I am no longer welcome in her home. Air, once so sweet, is now rushing out of my feeble lungs. Thrust out, against my will, as I am slammed against the ocean floor and turned over and over. A lone small rag doll at the mercy of this giant feat of nature.
The once soft sand has betrayed me. Changed into an ungiving surface that scrapes and scratches anything passing by its churning fingers. When I feel all hope is lost the day light breaks and the all to familiar bubbles of the shore are before my water logged eyes. Desperate cries escape my lips. The tumultuous tides pale in comparison to the wailings of my fearful heart. Confusion and despair are the tumbled mess that boldly stake claim to my little being.
I frantically rise and rush past the onlooking children, past the shallows, and into the arms of my scolding mother. “How could you Bob?!?! The waves are too big and she is too small”. The comfort of the beach blanket and my mothers arms are the perfect combination to steady the erratic beating inside my chest.
Making his way before us, my Father kneels before me. His hands frame my towel covered shoulders and a gentle kiss is placed on my shell covered forehead. “Are you ok Micky? You’re ok. You did good.”
Confused gasps slow to a more normal rhythm as I let his declaration sink in. I stare him down in child insolence and disbelief. Refusing to speak as my jumbled mind tries to determine if he jests or speaks truth. His proud eyes and large smile slowly bring me around to this incomprehensible truth. He truly believes I did good.
Still operating in my embarrassed downfall, my little mind tries to grasp hold of the truth He speaks.
Though my dissolved hair and sandy bottomed bathing suit speak otherwise. Though the stares and pointing fingers of the bodies around me tempt me to agree. He believes. And if He believes why should not I?
Worth is such a giant word. One defined by a infinite mixtures of values and experiences. When you are young your worth is found in winning every game of “go fish” or being the last one found when playing “hide and seek”. Getting straight A’s and doing all your chores. Being the first one to reach home base or catching the wave and riding it all the way with perfect form.
Your worth is simply defined because life is simply defined.
Then when you grow your world seems to grow with you. Fine lines of black and white slowly fade to shades of grey and the once simple act of winning a game is no longer an accurate measure.
“You did good.”.
Did I? I didn’t ride it in all the way. I let it rule me and made a mess of everything in the process. I let it get the best of me and definitely did not successfully catch the best wave of the day.
His strong brown eyes shine with pride and tenderness. His pain mirrors my own but behind his lie gentle assuredness. A confident poise that is magically making my tears dry up and my lost resolve return. It is slowly rising, driving out my fear and embarrassment. Stirring that brave part of my soul and once again turning my heart towards the adventure that called me in the beginning.
Turning his back to me, he starts a slow decent towards the mocking waves. A glance my way is my only invitation and all I need. Shifting my shoulders I escape the warm comfort of my mothers arms. Grasping his hand I once again charge the bubble ridden shore. Knowing a tie awaits. Knowing these waves are unforgiving but we will conquer them.
I am no longer afraid of failure and this is the gift. This, this unrelenting pursuit. This is a bit of my worth in its purest form, instilled in me by my Father’s belief. Not that I have ridden the perfect wave but in seeking it I refuse to relent, give up or let go. I will chase this wave. I will venture past the ordinary and safe, go where others are afraid, where I am afraid. I will go with my Fathers memory, treading the deep and returning again and again to the lonely places. This is the realm where the best stories dwell and this is the realm where my story lies.
The deep calls and I will always answer.