My wife and I were staying at the beach for a long weekend and I was having my early morning coffee on the balcony. The dawn light was still soft and blue. Our room was just on the third floor, so we had a great view; high enough that the sounds of the ocean and shore birds and other morning creatures (like me) remained audible. So, as I took in the sounds and sipped coffee, I heard the pat of flip-flops on the sidewalk below.
Scurrying like a small child, elated to be loosed in nature’s glory, a small framed woman came into view. Yellow t-shirt, pink shorts and heavy black pig-tails, I looked on as she excitedly kicked off her rubber sandals, set them neatly on the top rail of the boardwalk and began literally dancing, arms above her head, across the wooden planks toward the sea. As I watched, her pace was deliberate and slowed only at the few stairs that lead down to the shore. In her glee, she squealed as she cleared the last step and her tiny, bronze toes hit the sand. I can’t remember the last time I saw an adult with such conspicuous joy. She continued to twirl and skip until she reached the surf’s edge. Slowly she stopped and reverently pressed her hands together, palms in, fingers up. She closed her eyes and bowed. The half-light of dawn had faded and the sun was just above the horizon.
She remained in the corner of my eye as I continued to take in the sights, sounds and scents of the cool, coastal morning. Soon my wife was up and noticed the woman as well. The diminutive figure at the water’s edge had continued to dance and celebrate some glory lost on my wife and I. Then, the woman by the water was all of the sudden clumsy. Smiling as she struggled, she was attempting to take a selfie with no less than the entirety of the Gulf of Mexico as the backdrop. My wife suggested that I go offer to help. She knew I was dying to. Wives know these things. So down I went.
It felt almost intrusive, asking if I could assist. But just as gladly as she had welcomed the morning, the woman by the water welcomed me. She was grateful for the help and rewarded me with a short history of how she’d come to be in America and further, how she’d come to the beach. Her coming to America from Thailand was not a particularly happy tale, but her arrival in this country and the reasons for it were now several years behind her. The reason for being at the beach was a much more pleasant and inspiring story. She said her name was….wait for it…… “Sea”. Go figure. She said that a good friend, upon learning that Sea had never been to the Ocean, fully sponsored her visit. I suspect Sea’s friend knew what Sea’s reaction would be and the mere thought of it inspired the all-expenses-paid sojourn. Clearly Sea’s joy is infectious. After all, she drew my wife and I into it from 100 yards away without speaking a word.
Sea went on to say that since her arrival at the beach, everyone she’d met had been kind and good to her. I suspect they were just returning what they’d received. I don’t think Sea even realized that she’d befriended these unsuspecting strangers. Seems everyone is her friend; they just haven’t been introduced yet. She explained that this being her first time to an ocean of any sort, she found it completely overwhelming and inspiring; hence the smile and dancing. We talked a bit longer and then I excused myself to let her return to her revelry.
As I was on my way back up, a woman on the beach who’d noticed Sea as well, stopped me and remarked about Sea’s obvious joy. I gave the lady a truncated synopsis and she shook her head and laughed and said, “I don’t know if she’s a Christian, but she’s certainly evangelizing whether she knows it or not.” I said “Yes Ma’am.”
Christmas came early for me this year. It came that day. The shore birds were the Angels announcing His coming. Like the shepherds, I went where I was told to go and what I saw there was Jesus. Everyone is His friend; some He just hasn’t been introduced to yet. That’s on us to remedy. Perhaps I won’t dance and squeal, but it seems to work pretty well for some.
May God continue to guide your head, hands and heart.
Gaudete in Domino Semper!
~ Written by Carl Calderone
About the writer:
Carl Calderone was born and reared in the Catholic Church. He has been married for 30 years, is a cancer survivor, amateur apologist, and C.S. Lewis devotee. Carl first came to BTSR to work a Cursillo weekend. When asked about his connection with BTSR and what he loves about it, he said “I quickly fell in love with the quiet austerity and beauty of the place. Since that first weekend, I have returned a number of other times and am always glad to spend time at BTSR.”