For some reason I've always been drawn to bodies of water. Maybe it's because I live in the land of 10,000 lakes; I don't know. I grew up taking trips up and down the Mississippi because my family had a boat docked there. Even though we visited the same places over and over and saw the same sandbars, and tediously rode the locks, there was always something soothing about lapping waves. And of course, the Chain of Lakes—Hiawatha, Nokomis, Harriet, Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake— as well as Como and Phalen always held excursions of biking, walks, swimming, picnics and ice skating in the winter.
It seems like a vacation is not complete unless it involves a body of water. We've taken trips to Door County where the riptides of Lake Michigan mimicked the ocean. Mackinac Island was a step back in time with horse drawn carriages (no motorized vehicles allowed), bike riding and the 10 fudge shops. Duluth and Lake Superior have always been a great weekend getaway spot. And Sanibel Island on the Gulf side of Florida had a zillion shells. (I met my first live sand dollar - plucked it up from the shallow low tides. It was gray instead of the usual white, and it had a bunch of tiny air holes that looked like they were gasping for water. I apologized, and put him back in the water!)
The first time I saw the ocean (Atlantic), I couldn't get enough of it. It was a feast for the senses. The waves felt fierce, wild and relentless against my body. I loved the vibrant blue color, the taste of the salt water, grainy sand on my feet, and the smell of the ocean itself. It was a challenge - I had to constantly pay attention if I was in the water, because I could get knocked down and dragged under in a second.
Every time I visit the ocean, it seems like I'm usually in the process of making a decision or at a crossroads in life. The sand, shells, and waves create epiphanies that I take home with me. For example, one time I was on vacation in California and thinking about how I wanted a different job. I was looking for shells, and I found a large, beautiful white spiral with a few flaws, but it stood out from the rest of the shells around it. The message to me was: Keep looking and you'll find what you like; it won't be perfect, but it'll be the right career for you.
Another time I was at a beach near Chesapeake Bay and the relentless waves reminded me of the love of God - never tiring, never ceasing. I heard someone say once, "You are constantly in the presence of One who loves you." That statement really transformed my life.