The steady ocean breeze danced through my hair, and the rhythm of the waves crashing along the shoreline surrounded me as I walked along the beach. The water scurrying up and over my bare feet now and again, erasing the imprints my walk had left behind me. I was rather engrossed in searching for sea shells and any other interesting sea washed paraphernalia that I might happen across; so engrossed, in fact, that I did not look around me for quite some time. I don’t know why, but sometimes I get so engrossed with what is at my feet that I become nearly scared to lift my eyes to what is around me. Once or twice I felt a slight nudge deep down inside of me to look up, which I did, but not with much interest, because I didn’t want to walk by a sea shell that was perfect and miss a chance to collect it.
For some time I had held four or five shells in my hand, and I hadn’t much room there for more. Eventually I stopped walking and turned to face the setting sun and ocean directly. As I gazed out across the vase expanse of water, I was nearly blinded by the blaze of the setting sun. I breathed a deep breath of salt air and stood very still, entranced by the gloriously grand and beautiful expanse that lay before me. The cool water rushed over my feet and quickly receded, forming a little trench about each of my feet, leaving only a little mound at the center where the pressure of my weight kept the sand from being washed away. I moved my feet side to side to even out this little mound, and sank ever so slightly deeper into the wet sand, and ever so slightly deeper into the profound reality of beauty that ebbed and flowed and breathed about me.
It occurred to me that I am too often caught up in the details of life to step back, stand still, and really participate deeply in the world around me. Too busy looking for better shells than the ones I already have to look up and bask in the sacred sublimity of the radiant sun setting over the mighty sea, too busy even to stop and examine carefully the shells that I already hold in my hand. It seems rather silly when I think about it. The details become so much less important when I look at the vastness of life, and yet properly placed within the grand scheme of things they become so much more beautiful and meaningful than they are on their own.
I stood gazing at the water for a long time, all these thoughts running through my mind. Whenever a wave would recede back into the next the sunlight would glitter furiously on the millions of little ripples of water, sinking at last into the sand and the swell of the next wave. I pray that I consistently take the time to bask in the glory and unity of everything around me, working together towards beauty, and that I never get so hung up on searching for sea shells that I miss the ocean entirely.
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