“Wish you were here!” A well-worn phrase perhaps, but a thought that came to mind as I gathered ideas for this column while visiting family recently. It began as I gazed out the window of a log cabin perched on a hillside overlooking the Sol Duc River, near the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. All firmly setting on the Northwest Peninsula of Washington State. Truly a “Kodak moment.” Stately cedars, firs, hemlocks and alders surrounded the cabin and mountainsides, while ferns and budding wildflowers graced the clearings, all ushering in the rich color palette of Spring. A glorious compliment to the gentle sounds of the river carrying the melting mountain snow to join with other rivers, all winding their way to the ocean’s edge. The scenery there certainly provides a study in contrasts. Majestic: simple. Forceful: peaceful. Firm: flowing. Old: new. Rugged: soft. Rain: more rain! (Actually, contrary to the expected, we did have a few beautiful, unusually warm, blue-sky days of sunshine and clear starry nights.) We took advantage of one of those sunshine-filled days to spend a little time at one of the beaches along the northwest coastline. On the way there, I quietly reminisced about childhood summer times at the beaches on the Mid-Atlantic coastline. Boardwalks. Summer cottages. Carnival rides. Candy shops filled with salt-water taffy. Entertainment abounding. Then my thoughts traveled to Texas, which I did when a teenager; and I began to picture the sandy beaches of Galveston Bay. More open space and access to the gulf waters. Beach houses on stilts. Casual. Calm (except, of course, for hurricane season!). This new beach experience, however, was a different picture entirely. Tall trees stood firm near the water’s edge, allowing only limited space for the sand and smooth rocks to create a walking path. Timbers, washed ashore by the tides, stacked themselves in random patterns, providing a playground for the young at heart who like to test their skills on a balance beam. Just off shore, tall, rugged rock formations stood firm as the ocean’s waves crashed at their base. Colorful starfish were scattered among smooth stones that covered the rocky shoreline as a young puppy chased the waves. My niece joined me with her newborn daughter and I soon found myself in the center of yet another amazing study in contrasts: the forceful crescendos of nature ebbing and flowing before me, with the gentle, stillness of a tiny, baby girl at my side. Time seemed to stand still in that moment as I came face to face with the vastness of God’s amazing creativity. The ocean that seemed to stretch to the horizon, the birds of the air and fish of the sea, the plants and trees, the rocks that emerged from the water, the stone and sand beneath our feet, the sun that warmed us, even the tide that rolled out to provide space for us to sit and enjoy His handiwork. And, his most amazing creation: mankind. As my mind absorbed the awesomeness of it all, I began to recall verses from Psalm 8 in the Bible. “When I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers, The moon and the stars, which you have ordained, What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him? For you have made him a little lower than the angels, And you have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands. You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth!” (taken from the King James Version). Here it is, a few days later, and I’m back in Texas, a little more aware of God’s creative presence in our own back yard. Whether we travel about the country, or stay right here at home, may we always be mindful and respectful as we take time to enjoy the gifts He has created for our pleasure. And, may we never forget to thank Him for His goodness.

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