More notes from the sea…

More from my journal of our week at the ocean...
My boys sleep in this morning but I wander down the beach to where the white cross stands tall. There, a flock has gathered to worship on the shore. It’s a wonder to see: beach chairs and flip-flops, babies and retrievers, the ocean lapping the sand.
The preacher gives some opening words. He tells us that Shallotte Presbyterian Church has been holding these beach services for 45 years. I sigh and we sing our opening hymn: Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty. It’s one I know, straight from our pews back home but the words have never sounded sweeter—the voices of the saints lifted high on the wind and carried over the sea; the music of the waves the accompaniment.
As the preacher reads the Scripture, ten pelicans—all in a row—drift on the wind above us. I close my eyes. He preaches on Matthew 14:22-32.
…Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear…
When the preacher reads these words, the roar of the waves brings them to life. I gaze out over the ocean and feel the fear of the disciples. The sea is glass this morning and waves ride along it’s pane like living creatures. The sky is cotton candy—its pinks and blues pulled thin, melting into the horizon. How to tame such beauty?
My Lord knew this beauty well.
After the service, people pick up their chairs and walk back down the beach to where they came from. I don’t’ want it to end, so I sit in the sand under that cross and lose myself in the ocean for a time.
I am pulled with the surf, down to the water’s edge. The sand is hard here—pressed firm by the ocean. I find a razor shell and carve prayers into her cool—watch the ocean fold over the names of people I love and carry them out to sea.
When dawn breaks,
the sea glistens—
promise of a
million diamonds
wink in my eye. I
dip below her surface;
watch tiny surf swimmers
furtively dart away and
pull out silver coins,
porous porcelain, pearly
cups long abandoned—
sea currency—memories
of life once lived in
Linking up with  Michelle today:
And Jen and the sisters:


  1. says

    Oh, your words brought me there – to the crashing waves, the breeze, the sky, the ocean smell. (I think you left a piece of seaweed on my shoe!) And the church on the beach. Something about the ocean opens our spiritual senses, doesn’t it?

    Sounds like a restful and restorative vacation you had, Laura.

  2. says

    I could hear the ocean and feel the sun on my skin. What a wonderful worship service! Makes me think we should get outside in creation and worship the Creator more often! There is something so special about the beach…the beauty, the power…that draws our hearts.


  3. says

    Loved going to the beach with you in these words. I’ve never been to a worship service in that setting, but it sounds like it brings fresh breezes of His Truth. And the names of your loved ones in sand prayers? Beautiful picture of them watered and carried by God.

  4. says

    I think I would have stayed right there with you. I can imagine the notes of the hymns sounding sweeter in salt air. And carving prayer into sand? Love. It.

  5. says

    I read something the other day that said church is not a building. It was such a simple statement but it struck something deep… sorta like your prayers being carried out to sea. Beauty.


  6. says

    I want to know where this cross is — I cannot imagine a more beautiful sight — the largeness of the cross and the ocean, side by side.

  7. says

    Hi Laura. 🙂 Isn’t the ocean such a wonderful place to connect with God? It never fails to remind me of His mighty power, and at the same time, His gentleness.

    Your post is very soothing to the soul. Take care and God bless. 🙂


  8. says

    How awesome to worship beside the ocean! Your words took me to that place. What a beautiful experience. 🙂 Stopping by from Michelle’s Hear it-use it link. Many blessings!

  9. says

    Oh–the thought of a church service on the beach is just wonderful. Being out in God’s creation always feels more like church to me that being cooped up in a building anyway. Thank you for taking me along–beautiful!

  10. says

    Words that have melted my heart this day, Laura. Having lived so much of my life near the Pacific, I felt and heard and saw as I closed my eyes with you.
    I wish I had been there with you, but this will do.
    loving you, ~ linda

  11. says

    what an awesome way to hear the sermon about a visit by the sea visit. And I know you won’t give yourself credit for this – so I will – even by the ocean – even with the waves – even with that white cross – you still need a spirit that’s open – and ears to hear – and heart to feel. You have that heart – and so you heard – and so you felt. I hearted this visit to the beach – thank you – and God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours this day Laura.

  12. says

    Oh my gosh, Laura, I am swooning, this is so beautiful. And that bit about cotton candy clouds, pink and blue “pulled thin”? I can see it — that is just perfect.

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