Heaven-sized cotton ball clouds danced across the azure sky. The bright, brisk day captivated my senses and I drank deeply of the celestial portrait. It was His gift to me. The painting. The dew-washed air breathing relief to my recently stress-tightened chest. The chatter of friends–we women who celebrate our annual gathering with laughter, silliness, long talks, encouragement for the dark moments in each other’s lives, time basking in His creation, and, of course, shopping. Each moment was His own precious ribbon-wrapped gift me. Each moment whispered His love, “I love you. I delight in you. You are my treasure.”
But the words were not just for me. They were for each of us joined by golden threads of friendship rooted in Him as we twirled in joy beneath His canopy of love.
The day had only begun as I gazed upward. Who knew what delights He had in store for us as we climbed into the car? Just one intoxicating whiff of the orange blossoms in my friend’s yard, the sweet scent I so missed this year in my own backyard, and then we were winding our way to Newport Beach. Rain or shine.
I could take it either way. Stormy skies to wrap around my melancholy memories or sun-sparkled waves to chase along the shore. Either would have filled my senses and spilled love into my heart.
The recent days and weeks had gouged and torn pieces from my heart. They weren’t the darkest of days I’ve experienced but they signaled a change I was reluctant to welcome. Here amongst my friends and the well-worn paths where my heart runs, the Lord would reach within and bless me with refreshment and love.
* * *
The sky looked threatening as we approached the coastline. The weather predictions had been mixed. We squeaked into one of those miniature beach parking spaces, plunked in the quarters, and zig-zagged across the street to our friend’s favorite haunt in Newport Beach. The Crab Cooker. Her Hubby brought her here on their first date~30 years ago.
We relished the sights of an authentic fish house. Stepping inside, we stopped to stare at the glass case of fresh fish bordering the narrow aisle leading to the cafe-style tables. An ornate, scrolled wrought iron art piece hung prominently above our heads, welcoming us and urging us to “Eat Lots A Fish.” Celebrity photos and nautical memorabilia decorated the walls. The atmosphere, coastal. We shared a special heart-filled moment in our friend’s life while we created a new memory in ours. Within, I harbored the desire to lavish this experience on my family in the near future.
Looking back, I could taste His gifts in the grilled scallops and shrimp threaded on a skewer, in the ambiance, in the locals who crowded round the tables mid-afternoon. Memories of strolling with my family along Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco rolled through my mind. We sat in our silent thoughts, resting in the fullness of the moment. Just before we exited, I dropped a postcard to our Oldest, fish-loving son, and grabbed a couple pieces of salt water taffy with tongs that reached long into a narrow-mouthed fish bowl.
More money in the meter, and then the long-awaited trek to the beach. Sea and sky were split in two giving us a taste of each weather condition. Storm clouds streaking rain to the ocean draped one side of the view while sunshine glistening off the waves sparkled like diamonds on the other side. Awe-struck, I remembered to praise Him.
The pier beckoned. Creaky boards and wooden pylons in cross-hatched form supported this distinct mark of most coastal towns. Winds increased as we tread farther out, waves gently rolling and breaking before the shoreline. Pulling our parkas closer, we rounded the far corner of the pier, alone and quiet, adrift on a stationary raft at sea. Crossing the planks back to the sand, we watched fisherman, empty lines bobbing in the waves. The lure of the sea had captured them.
|Friends Bobbie and Karen|
It was hard to pull away from the rhythmic rolling of the waves but our day held more of His majestic beauty along with the reckless abandon of women on a shopping adventure. Macy’s at Newport Fashion Island will never be the same. We donned floppy hats and gaudy, funky colored purses laughing at how ridiculous we could make ourselves look (one of the other friends has the pictures).
Scooting out of Macy’s onto the promenade, an array of vivid spring flowers carpeted the center court and encircled an Easter cottage. In the distance, we could still see the calming ocean.Within minutes, the clouds and sinking sun mingled creating a vibrant sunset over the Pacific capping our day of blessings and friendship. In the gentle breeze the American flag fluttered against the pastel sky. May this land of the free remember its Creator and worship at His feet. His blessings know no end.
|My friend Karen and I|
“How great is Your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you
bestow in the sight of men, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19 NIV