Of Life and Death and of the Sea


Of life and death are we, specimens of decaying flesh, yet bearing about a sheath that houses immortality; an occasional scintillating of soul revealing the glorious truth. It was appropriate then that our last 70th-birthday-party-San Diego-trip afternoon, that morphed into evening, be spent by the sea.

Eternal sea. I cannot recall a time when I have pressed my feet into fine beach sand and cast my eyes over the rolling water but what I have thought: The ocean is forever; it never stops, refuses a rest period or a break; ebbs and surges, rolls in and then without. Weeks give to months, and negligible thought is directed to that raging water, but as I stand here now, I sense its continuum, its abiding nature, its timelessness. (To be precise, the sea is not infinite, and at the end of the ages will pass away.) Certainly, though, a fitting symbol of birthdays and of life and of death.


Fitting, too, that among our family-Imperial Beach-outing on Friday afternoon was Ella Claire, a baby, a new soul, who only one week ago learned to walk, and who staggers about as drunken, and about whom I heard one of her siblings lovingly say, “Ella, you look like an old lady with arthritis.”

I didn’t ask, but I suspect this may have been her first visit to the ocean, and she was driven to it as metal filings are snatched to a magnet. Holding her mother’s hand, with no apparent  fear, she waded into the foamy edgewater, and when Shawnna would bring her back to our spread towels, she immediately turned and trotted toward the water.

The older children had thrown chips, and gulls and pigeons had fluttered in, squawking and chattering and fighting over the morsels, and Ella walked right into the middle of them, sat down, and scooped sand into a pile. She’s a baby, a fresh soul. Her vision of sea is untried, her experience meager.

I watched as Shawnna mothered, grasping Ella’s hand for wading, holding her against the current, and once when a wave came too rough and too close, the mama lifted high the baby until the threat had passed. It was a teaching expedition that Friday afternoon, though neither pen nor book were in sight. I watched a mother prove life to her baby girl.

The sun shinned as we arrived at Imperial Beach, but as the hours passed, an early marine layer moved in, and the wet children were cold. It was time to leave; Andrew and his crew and Rebecca and hers were off to a pizza joint and Jerry and I were to meet our friends for dinner at Islands. “It’s got to be someplace that’s casual,” I told Nita when she called and wanted to take us out for dinner. “We’ll be coming straight from the beach.”

Of life and death and of the sea, Jerry and I stood for a last picture. Roiling and foaming, the plunging water in unrelenting style pounds out its mission. 







12 thoughts on “Of Life and Death and of the Sea

  1. I’ll second to that – nothing like grand-children. And you have great grand children! How full your heart must be! I’m sure the great-grand-father is jubilant too.
    Great picture of you two and Ella-Claire with her mother. Thank for sharing.


  2. Sis. Buxton, So glad you had such a blessed day. I enjoyed reading about your precious Ella Claire. The joy of watching grandchildren playing especially at the beach. I too was at the coast this past weekend with my grandson and foster grandaugter who is 17 months. She, like your Ella Claire, would charge off for the waves when trned loose. It’s such a joy to watch the free spirit of children play in God’s vast creation isn’t it?

    Glad you had a wonderful birthday weekend.


  3. What more could a parent, grant-parent or great-grand-parent ask then to have those thing of REAL value close. Then to reflect upon the moving of the waters that never seem to halt. They are so steady that you can chart their movement months in advance. With the eternal hope that those things of REAL value see and consider the great point of eternal uniformity.

    Looking forward to seeing you and yours in Santa Maria;



  4. Good morning, Esther–What a beautiful scripture, and one that I can see was a great comfort to you during those trying days. God is so gracious.

    Thanks, Dean.

    Brenda, I thought of you when we were in Imperial Beach. Our few hours there were delightful. Thanks for sharing that beautiful stretch of land. 🙂


  5. Esther

    Jeremiah 5:22
    “Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a PERPETUAL DECREE, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?”
    This is the scripture The Lord gave me right after my son, Todd, was killed. Not only has God placed a boundery with a Perpetual decree to hold back the waters of the seas, but The Lord let me know that He has also placed a boundery with His perpetual decree in each of His children, to ward off the flooding of sorrow and heart break when lossing a loved one. God is so great. He created the beautiful seas, the sand and the bownderies for sorry. No matter the waves crashing, the tossing and roaring, His perpetual decree will always be there.
    Sorry but I just could not pass up this opportunity that might help someone in time of sorrow.
    By the way, that sweet- pea baby is my youngest grandchild and she is the cutest, smartest and most adorable baby in the world.


  6. Brenda G

    I’m glad you enjoyed Imperial Beach. I was raised just two blocks from that beach, and now live just 5 blocks away. I LOVE the smell of the ocean and the coolness of the offshore breezes.
    What a great way to end a birthday celebration, getting sand between your toes!


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