As the kids go back to school I am preparing for a needed vacation to the sandy shores of the Carolinas. It is the beginning of hurricane season so the prices of beach front condos plummet. It may not make sense to some, but it is my treasure. It is a family tradition. One year Hurricane Floyd actually chased us back to Ohio five days too soon. We were part of the third largest evacuation in history. We were stopped on the interstate and had cheese and crackers with the car behind us. Then a guy on a motorcycle with a dog in his backpack rode by and laughter broke out all around. What fun! What a treasured memory.
I reflect on the many family trips to the beach over 30 years. Our family headed south to a particular spot for one week every year with a loaded van. Three kids required beach toys, flotation devices and a bucket of sunscreen we always forgot to reapply. Packing children, luggage, toys, kitchen items, pillows and blankets for a week were more than a chore, but the destination was worth every bit of energy disbursed. One year an iced teapot carefully rested under the baby’s seat along side fishing poles and tackle.
As the children got older and they began to pack their own bags, I notoriously would remind everyone that they only really need a towel, a bathing suit and a change of clothes, NOTHING ELSE, PLEASE!
After about seven hours in the loaded family van I would begin trying to convince my husband the Great Lakes were closer and maybe next year we should vacation only five hours from home. That usually was met with a flat “No” through his grit teeth and comments about how I was as impatient as the kids. Those trips were much like a “Griswold Vacation.” Why I could not remember the youngest that sat in the back was the one with carsickness until…well never mind.
Many times after the week of beach fun we returned to Ohio with extras like pet lizards caught climbing on the sun porch. This meant we had to find flies and other bugs for food and supply water for our new friend at every gas stop. We usually ended up taking them to a pet store after a few weeks at home.
One year after some stressful and arduous work in ministry I got a letter from God written in the sand on the beach early about sunrise. I will never forget the tears of great joy as I read the message in three-foot letters. I never felt more loved. The beach became a place of rest and healing. We gathered there after a close family member died. We were called home from the beach when another passed.
This year a small economy car will be loaded with two duffle bags, my husband, a compact C-Pap machine, and myself. The weightiest gear will be our priceless memories. They are my treasure.
We go to the beach at the end of the summer during hurricane season when everyone else is gearing up for fall. It does not make much sense until one hears the stories behind the story.
The other day at work I took an elderly gentleman with moderate dementia back to his previous residence to check on belongings. He was worried about precious relics. He picked through what looked like to me old junk. Those pieces and parts were his treasures. As he told stories and touched items like broken electronics with care I was reminded of something else that doesn’t make sense.
We are God’s treasure, a treasure in jars of clay. We may be broken, but we are of great value to the One who is Lord. There is a direct line that ties our life stories to God’s story. In Exodus 19:5 God tells his people that if they obey and keep his covenant with him they will be his treasured possessions.
Dee is the chaplain at Signature Healthcare of Fayette County.