I think about it fairly often these days.
I'm sorry. I just don't have it in me to look through all the things I've written and check whether this is redundant. Redundant. Circling thoughts, unresolved issues. Just writing.
(the sun at 8:00 am in my neighborhood this morning)
Back in the day--
back when we all lived together on Sugar Pine Circle,
sleeping under the same roof,
eating lots of soup and homemade bread,
sloppy joes on Thursdays--
back when we were together,
laughing, fighting, apologizing,
doing school projects,
driving to events and practices,
participating at church together,
memorizing Bible verses taped to the sliding glass door in the kitchen,
processing tons and tons of laundry
and practicing musical instruments for hours,
goodnight kisses and
scrambling not to miss the bus in the morning--
back in that day,
we used to go to the beach for a week in the summer.
The six of us.
Beach vacations were a blessing, salt and sand and a whole house to relish. We combed the eastern tip of the island for ocean treasures, shook sand out of our beach towels, walked for miles in the edge of the surf. We bobbed in the swells, our eyes and mouths filling with salt water when waves broke at unexpected moments. We washed our feet with a hose underneath the house, rinsing toes and flip flops before going inside to air conditioning, showers, aloe gel, maybe even chili dogs and watermelon.
The weeks went Saturday to Saturday. David and I developed a tradition of getting up while it was still dark one morning, and walking out to watch the sunrise, just the two of us. We did this near the end of the week, usually Thursday.
Our alarms would go off, and we'd meet in the living room, pulling hoodies over our shorts and tanktops, stepping into flipflops awkwardly with the clumsiness of somnolence.
Sometimes we went out far too early. 5:30 am on the beach can take your breath away with its damp chill. Cold, damp and dark, the early ocean aura elongated time, and our walk up the beach towards the east seemed interminable. Yet, we walked on, sometimes asking one another, "How long do you think it will be?" or, "Can you see any light on the horizon yet?"
If it was low tide, we'd sit down on the cool, packed sand, its chill dampness seeping up our tailbones and into our spines.
And we would wait.
And, the time I remember most clearly of all is the time when the sun never did come up.
David and I waited and watched, but never saw anything. Eventually twilight lightened into day, but still we saw no sun. Nevertheless, it was nearly 7:00, and the grandmothers were beginning to bring the early-rising toddlers out for their first romp. Under indirect illumination, we reversed direction, walking west whence we'd come.
Upon reaching the boardwalk that would take us home, we turned and looked back to the east. In the sky, well above the horizon, hung a half-sun, the top of a pale red circle. Its bottom half, which also would have been well above the horizon by then, was invisible, cloaked in some kind of white mist or cloud that seemed to run all across the horizon and blend with the overcast sky. Half a red sun, in the middle of the eastern sky, on an overcast day.
When I pray for a miracle to dawn in someone's heart, in my life, I want it to come up like a beautiful clear sunrise, gleaming golden rays exploding over the inky edge of the earth. I want to see the periphery of that fiery yellow star peek over the curve of the sea's boundary, spreading its reflection in a glorious streaming line across the surface of the deep, as it grows bigger and bigger until it finally detaches and mounts triumphantly, blazing in the blue heavens above while the entire ocean bursts into silver splendor.
That's what I want, but it doesn't always happen that way.
Sometimes things happen slowly, imperceptibly. Sometimes, even when we're watching carefully, we cannot see the changes, cannot perceive the progress.
That day of anticlimactic sunrise, the mists eventually burned off, and the sky was clear and bright by noon. We ended up enjoying a perfectly lovely beach day. It was fine.
It was fine.
You can't stop hoping, just because change is slow and hard to see. I think about this often, this idea and this story, together.
I will not stop hoping.
Nothing is too hard for God.
He makes the sun rise.