Oh what joy. The salt in the air, the movement of the breeze. The freshness tingling all around in the very atoms of the atmosphere. The gulls, the sand, the roll of the waves, the call of the foghorn and that moment, oh that moment, where the tide is going out and the water almost stops, there is a lull and it feels like the world has stopped it’s crazy churning cycle, if only for a moment.
Yes, I am a beach baby. People born in my town are known locally as Sanddancers. For 18 years I lived by the sea and for the next 18 years I yearned to go back to it. My teenage angst diffused when I sat at the top of cliffs looking out to sea and realised how tiny and insignificant I was, yet Jesus still loved me. My adult pains soothe whenever I manage the trip back, opening the car door to be met with the fresh, vibrant air of what will always be the Home of my heart wherever I live. We are made up of 60% water, I wonder if mine is Brine.
So to get away to the sea, even if it can’t always be my own little ripple of it, is always a blessing, and when offered the chance to do so in July with minimal Covid risk and within local guidance, we jumped at it. Risk assessments undertaken, masks and hand gel galore purchased, not quite the usual beach holiday but we were ready to make the most of any chance for a change of scene and a chance for restoration.
And I was in desperate need for some restoration. In many ways this blog has been life changing. It has been so affirming, for me in writing it and for others in reading it. It has also cost me dearly, and I’ve had to reconcile myself to that. I have been deeply challenged around how I can maintain a respectful fellowship within a church communion while also maintaining a little corner of the internet calling out injustice in the wider church – there is so much to dig into in that but the consequences of the discussion opening up have already cut deep. In speaking truth to power, the status quo could never be maintained, and perhaps it was naive hope on my part to think that it could. However I thank God for naive hope, that enables us to take steps we otherwise wouldn’t!
Listening to Jen Hatmaker speak on the recent Evolving Faith Podcast (ep 3 S1 – subscribe if you haven’t already, they’re all amazing!) summed so much up for me and I’m still processing a lot of it. Vicky Beeching wrote so poignantly in her book Undivided about the switch from fully embraced and successful Worship Leader to outcast because she dared to speak the truth she was Gay. It appears there is an unhealthy trend in the church of ostracising people who live a different truth to the mainstream, instead of embracing their vibrancy and listening to what they may have to say. What a loss to the church.
So what did I learn as I wept on the sand with frustration and grief, adding the salt of my tears back to the ocean they came from? I learned I am beloved, I am on the path God has called me down and I trust They know what They are doing. If my blog leads me to be considered less respected, able, Godly, I will not let that cower me, but always take it back to the God who loves me, who laughed with me on a beach in Brittany, who danced with me amongst the pebbles, who restored me in love with gentleness and gave me a little more of myself back with each tender wave rippling round my toes.
So on we go. There are words to write, seeds to sow, conversations to be had and a justice to seek. Amen.
Peace be with you.