Ordinarily this time of year, I would be yearning for autumnal weather and reading the blog posts of others and coveting their autumnal weather.
This year, my 5 year old nephew and sister are visiting. My nephew loves the beach; he would stay at the beach for "fifty thousand, three hundred, and thirty-three days and a half" if we pesky grown-ups would just do what he says. So, this year, at least for these few days, I'm not complaining about our daytime highs in the 90's.
It's the first day of October, and I have a slight sunburn, the kind that my dermatologist decries, but that makes me feel like I look sunkissed and healthy.
We have spent hours each day at the beach. We've built sandcastles and decorated them with trash we found washed up on the shore. I've said many prayers of thanks that the trash looks to be safe to use for decorations; happily, we don't find medical waste or sewage or weird stuff from cruise ships here.
I wish you could have seen my nephew's joy when a huge leaf washed up beside him as a wave swept in. He pounded on it, and said "A leaf!" as if he'd found true treasure.
But, of course, he had found true treasure. I know that I've spent the first part of this week at Lutheridge, studying the miracles of Jesus as art form so my perspective is different right now. The life of Jesus and many other spiritual leaders teaches us that we have everything we need, if we had eyes to see it. There are too many times in my life I forget this basic principle.
Spending time with a five year old is a fine reminder. The world is full of leaves and string and dental floss boxes that can be used when pretending to be a power ranger. A mug full of cheap Crayola markers can be used to make art that is every bit as carefully crafted as those pieces made with better supplies.
I'm watching my nephew learning to write letters, and he's even figuring out how those letters correspond to the words we speak and the words on a page. Magical!
Yes, I know it's not really magical. I've had linguists as office mates, and I had a glimpse of the science and study behind how language works.
But to see a five year old beginning to comprehend it, I'm reminded again of why I love language, especially English, which gives us so many wonderful words. I'm reminded that with just 26 letters, we have so many possibilities.
Stuff just washes up on the shore, every day, whether we're there to take note or not. And if we want to take note, we've got so many ways: we can build a sandcastle, we can take a photo, we can write a blog post, we can lift our arms and say, "Thanks, universe/God/ocean/nature!"