The tide was out, and the gulls were quiet, floating just offshore of Rathtrevor Beach. The tide would turn soon but, at this moment, the air was fresh, scented with just a tinge of seaweed, the breeze from the east, gentle, and the sound of the children and families far down the beach could not endure against the wind. My wife was looking young and happy in her skirt and ponytail, heading off to find the source of the children’s noise, possibly to join in or just enjoy. I watched her, for a few minutes, through my binoculars.
The realization came, again, unbidden. We have so much in our lives for which to be grateful.
And, at this moment, peace - the very reason we had slipped away from the city.
I drew my phone from inside the velcro sealed pocket of my shorts. Perhaps a message from Caleb’s mother or sister?
Yesterday night we had word he had been seen, “in bad shape.” The report was that he was using fentanyl, although I cannot fathom how that drug could be used safely by a street user when a speck can kill. Before he left detox, we knew he was using a cocktail of heroin, speed and other drugs. This Mickey made the detox complicated and, as it turned out, impossible for him.
No use pretending.
I know I am waiting - waiting for a phone call from the police.
Will the message say that they have found him overdosed or that he is in jail? Or, perhaps if another miracle occurs, a communique from Caleb himself.
I brace for the former.
Somewhere inside a voice prepares to scold.
“Did you not come here to get away from the worry, the anxiety, the fear?
Did you not come to feel the wonder of the Creator and sink into the realization that God’s world is bigger than your fears?
When the children and grandchildren come, the focus will shift to joy and play. So, let it go!” says the voice, ready to mount the soap box.
But that is not how I work.
A week ago, after Caleb had left detox, scarcely 24 hours into the program, I was scheduled to preach. The story was that of Abraham and Sarah casting out Ishmael and Hagar. The specific passage was when the water and provisions had run out, and the two were alone in the desert. Hagar put Ishmael under a bush, far enough away so that she could not see him die.
One of the great things about engaging Biblical stories is they often illuminate our own life. And so, in my heart, I lay down beside Hagar, feeling all resources depleted and that I could not bear the inevitable consequence.
The Biblical story takes a turn. Somehow, God/an angel enters the scene, and a new possibility exists.
I remember saying to the congregation, “That’s all I got (this week), “Whatever I experience of God is of an intentional force out there that just cannot rest with bondage and does not seem ever to stop creating opportunities, possibilities.”
It’s all I had that Sunday. Still is, even on the edge of a fantastic beach as the sun goes down and the tide rolls in.