What is Happiness?

I stood alone on a beach a few days ago – it was to be the last time for many months.  I had walked miles of surf for the past six days.  I had watched the ever-changing moods of the waves, first gentle, lapping like a mountain lake, then raging, pounding the beach with the fury of a small hurricane.  Sunrise had come with the awakening calls of the sea gulls and then given way to sunset.  The dolphins took their evening swim, performing antics and jumps like a close-knit family after all the company has gone home- playing together, showing off the new tricks in the safety of the circle of family.

I picked up thirty or more varieties of sea shells in quantities of fifty to bring home to my children’s choir.  Having done that, I walked alone at sunset one last time.  I felt immense sadness and aloneness.  Gazing into the sunset as it fell gently – light as a feather drifting down into the water – my eyes were dazzled with the gold as it touched and painted the whitecaps of the waves that swelled and rolled majestically toward shore.  Stooping down I studied the millions of perfect shells all around my feet – and suddenly I had a panicky feeling that I should take more shells. 

Pondering this urge, I began to commune with the Creator of this majestic sea, and to my memory came the verse from the Bible, “The Sea is His, He made it . . ..”  I fought the impulse to “take more” and began to praise the One who created all.  I found myself rejoicing in the beauty, the simplicity, consistency, and yes, the complexities of the sea.  A great peace, satisfaction, serenity and joy began to transform my heart and mind, and I knew I was ready to say good-bye.

Today, far from the beauty of that shoreline, I sort my collection.  The smell of the sea clings to the surfaces of the shells, just as the memories of my seaside worship experience cling to my soul.  I reflect upon the journey of life we each have embarked upon, and I understand that I must handle each day as an intricate treasure borne upon the sea of life.  In this moment, I will rejoice, and be glad. This then is happiness.

 copyright – 12/24/2002 ritchpublications

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