Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Old Paths and Good Ways

Several weeks ago, a friend invited me (or should I say, BUSTER) to go to the beach to share a playdate with her two dogs. All I could think was. . . . BUSTER?????? And ME??????? Out with real people and other dogs????? We talked it back and forth, and after finding no fight in me at all, I thought, what’s the worst that could happen??? We could just come home.

The day arrived, and it had been raining. The sky looked so threatening, but I put Buster’s gentle leader collar on, snapped on his leash, grabbed some towels, ice, water, etc., and out we went.

By the time we were all ready to jump into their car, it was starting to rain, but we decided to go anyway.
I was shocked at Buster’s good behavior with the other dogs. Amazing!!!!!

I loved the ride. It took me on a trip down memory lane ---- places of years ago, old haunts, good times, hard work, places of new beginnings, dreams, bad endings, and people involved in all the in-betweens. Add to that, I love rain, and I loved the conversation and getting to know new and wonderful friends.

The sky was still dark and threatening when we arrived at the beach, and the wind blew non stop, but it was perfect. No blazing sun, no hot sand, no squinting, no mosquitos, no panting and no sweat! Can’t beat that.
This doggy-friendly beach area was deserted except for our little party, and Buster found the walk to the water just full of wonderful sniffing places, and his nose would not stop! His head was high and his nose taking it all in. But to see his eyes when we reached the water ----- I wish I had remembered to take my camera. Up until now, the biggest body of water he has seen has been the little blue plastic kiddy pool in the back yard! Can you imagine what he thought of the Gulf????? And waves??????

I rolled up my pant legs, and began to tug on Buster’s leash, but he had anchored his feet deep in the sand.
But the next wave came up over his legs, and we were in. The other two doggy friends were swimmers and jumped right in, but Buster?????? No jumping in that stuff, no sitting, no swimming. I didn’t force it, and soon he relaxed a little and at least got his belly wet. What a chicken for a great big ooff of a dog!

The sea was restless, churning dark, and the waves were hitting hard and fast. The phrase, “troubled sea” took on a new look for me, as this was truly it. I stood there, trying to anchor my feet, just as Buster was,
But each wave took away the sand I had planted my feet in, and I felt myself losing my footing. Time after time, wave after wave, more sand washed away from around my feet, and I was sinking. I would have to move again and again. Buster heard the sea gulls and was watching them above him. They flapped their wings so hard, trying to fly against the wind, but seemed suspended in midair as they could not make any headway. I loved their soft, soprano harmony added to the beat set by the crashing waves and the melody of the wind.

If anyone could have seen my heart that day, it would have looked just like this storm tossed gulf beach. A “troubled sea” would aptly describe it. I had forgotten that feeling that comes when something crashes in, and my footing feels unsure, and I’m finding all the junk from the bottom of my heart churned up and causing me to trip over my own feet. Sand!!!. . . . . At that moment, I felt like my whole life was just sand. . . Something that was just washing out to sea at the will of a churning storm.

I looked behind me, and I saw how over time, about 3 feet of beautiful beach had been washed out to sea by these waves. There was a wall where the sea grass ended, where the waves had beat away inch by inch what had been. I saw it as “a line drawn in the sand” so to speak --- the place where the waves stopped and never crossed --- a dividing line between what is a sure foundation with roots and life and stuff that grows, and shifting sands that wash away with the slightest of storms. On one side, the storm nurtures and waters life, on the other side, the storm takes away to the bottom of the sea.

The dogs all had a great time, and so did we. I know I did. I loved watching Buster’s reaction to it all. We got ready to leave, put our shoes on, and found the path back to the car. This path was well worn, beat down by many, many years of people and their dogs. But step off that path and the sand spurs dig in like spears. Buster stopped dead in his tracks and lifted his paw and it was up to me to pull those suckers out!!!!
I wrapped the leash so it would be shorter and kept him on the path. This path twisted and turned a bit, but we knew it led to the parking lot and the car. It was the way we had come --- so it was the way back. Later, as I thought of it all, I was taken back to Jeremiah 6:16. A favorite of mine for years, but I had not thought of it in so long. . . . “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”

We went home, dogs were dog tired, and it continued to rain. My heart still churned like the sea and for weeks I tripped in the sea weed of my soul and sunk in the sands of what I had previously thought were rock solid foundations of my faith.

Why I let all this happen to me, I don’t know. I knew better. I knew the “good way.” I knew the “old paths.” I had no business on that side of the line in the sand -- all I had to do was remain steadfast, stay in the ruts of the old paths and the good way and I would not be pierced by sharp sand spurs, I would not lose my way, and my footing would be safe and sure.

I needed a picture, a real life illustration. A day at the beach in the pouring rain with crazy dogs and two wonderful people who had no idea of what was going on in my heart.

Thank you Dan and Liz!

Linking up with "On Your Heart Tuesdays" today. Click on the icon and
check out what is on the hearts of others this week.


Irene Cortez said...

Wow, as I read on, I could already hear the crashing waves, see the seagulls up in the air, and a dog full of glee playing in the water! It must be a very liberating moment. Wonderful read!

Thank you for sharing this moment of your life. God bless! :-)

Visiting from On Your Heart Tuesdays

Shanda said...

I love the ocean as it clears my head and washes away my cares: at least for a few hours. And, I especially love the doggy beach!

Denise said...

Wonderful post; I almost felt like I was really there! Nothing soothes the soul and calms the spirit like a walk on the beach with special close friends. :)

Thanks for visiting; I'm glad I had the opportunity to read yours!


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your sweet comment! It just made my day! Your blog always looks so beautiful! Great job!

We are headed for the ocean in a couple weeks, for three days. We can't wait. I love your photos.

Pain to Purpose said...

Your comment on my blog so blessed me! But I have to tell you, when I read your post, the scripture you used Jeremiah 6:16 literally jumped off the screen and into my heart. It's a perfect scripture to add to my journal as a I pray for my wayward Prodigal husband.

PS I think the Dog Beach is one of my favorite places in the world!

Kristin Bridgman said...

Oh Cora, I can always see everything as I read your writings, I love that! And I got tickled imagining Buster seeing that vast ocean after only seeing a little kiddie pool! :)

Isn't it wonderful how God picks different ways to teach us, to sooth us, and to love us? I'm so glad you had this day!

Vicky said...

Cora, this was just beautiful! Breathtaking to read and I feel like I was just at the beach with you. Very uplifting and illuminating! So glad for good friends and your willing spirit to go and look at the huge experience that awaited you!

Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

I wish my dogs could walk with Buster and I with you. Maybe someday...


Paula said...

Cora, you couldn't possibly know how bad I needed to read these words today... I think God truly inspired you to write this for me!
Thanks so much for sharing your heart, dear friend... you are always such a blessing to me.

jack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Craig said...

I hearted this Cora – the sea that mirrored your heart – and the sand washing from under your feet – and Buster – and the healing that took place when nobody even knew there was a wound. When I was a kid in Brooklyn we used to go to Coney Island – and I always just stood on that part of the beach, barely in the water, because I hearted the sand rushing out underneath my feet. Thank you Cora – God bless you my friend. said...

Hi Cora.. ((( HUgz)))
It's been awhile and I have missed my sister. Haven't been feeling well, had surgery to bleeds in my stomach, but I continue to trust the Lord each day for a healing according to his will be done. How have you been? I enjoyed reading this post, I felt your heart as you wrote :)

Luv Ya Lorie

KathyB. said...

I too love and thrive on such days at the ocean, with my dog. The sea and the weather cannot help but cause me to contemplate my Creator, His ways versus my ways, and ultimately leave me challenged and rested in Him.This was truly a good day for you and Buster, God is so good!

Lea said...

Hey Cora... I'm still pondering the verse you shared. The visual of the ocean with that verse sure speaks to my heart. It fits with the message at church today too. I'll write you an email about it tomorrow. Just wanted to pop in here and thank you. Mucho love.