Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love


Went to the beach over the holidays.  My husband lived at the beach for several years and for a while this became a tradition.  The kids and I still lived in WV and the husband would travel back and forth every couple weekends to visit but when holidays came I would pack up the kids and we would drive to see him at the beach....It was thoroughly enjoyable and exciting to know that whenever a school break came up we could go to the beach!
The ‘poor thing’ (my husband) lived in an efficiency hotel room with a balcony overlooking the beach where he would sit in the evenings, watching the waves and hearing the ocean sounds and all those wonderful moments associated with being at the beach. I called him 'the poor thing' because he occasionally would call me having the audacity to say something like "I'm siting on the balcony watching the waves' and would whine -  while I was at home with three teenagers and a foot of snow on the ground…. Well you can guess how that whining went over!
Anyway, when holidays came the kids and I packed up the car and motored off to the beach to stay with the husband for as long as we could!  Of course one of these holidays at the beach included the time between Christmas and New Years - so there were many years of New Years Eves at the beach.  It was wonderful.
After the husband found employment closer to home, we continued the tradition of New Years Eve week at the beach but as the kids got older and life got a little more complicated that particular tradition unfortunately went the way of the preverbal dinosaur.  
Oh, we have been to the beach some since then but generally to different beaches closer to where we now live and it was never quite the same.  This year, the husband and I decided that it would work out and we could go to ‘our’ beach once again. Amazingly enough when we got there it was like we had never left.  Pretty much everything looked the same, felt the same.  Even though it had been many years, many years, since we had been there, we remembered where everything was; we drove around like natives! We visited places we had been, even going to the Harris Teeter where we did most of our grocery shopping when the husband lived there.  (OK, that may have been a little strange but even the store was the same!)
And we did a lot of that, driving around drinking in the familiar places where we had fond memories.  We did a lot of beach walking as well, altho we are older now and there was more boardwalk along the beach walking than actual on the beach walking!  However it was on the beach itself where most of the changes had taken place.  
On the beach were now many things that hadn’t been there before.  To my amazement there was an actual horse corral filled with horses and for most of my family fortune I could ‘rent’ a horse to ride up and down the beach.  Even more to my amazement they were doing a lot of business…..
More my speed the beach was dotted with playgrounds for different age kids.  Playgrounds for the wee ones and playgrounds for the little older children and even a playground for the older teen crowd.  But other than that it was the same ole beach we knew....
The exciting thing for us was to find our old favorite Irish Pub and entering it and finding out it had not changed one bit.  We were seated right by the fire place where we could enjoy that ambiance with a good vantage point to remember a lot of moments in our history that had happened in this place.  The food was still delicious and it was such a great evening the first night we went we ended up going back another night of our vacation!
This beach week was  a great visit filled with the nostalgia of the familiar; filled with the warm feelings of remembering years past when we visited; memories of my husband who reminisced about people he worked with and places he went.
Made me think of church.  For me church is that place where I go to get that same feeling of warmth and familiar and the knowledge that no matter where I am, the sanctuary is just that - a sanctuary where I can feel at home; where I know what to expect; where I am served a good ‘meal’ in the bread and wine;  And yes, sometimes there is a new element, but that only adds to the knowledge that God sometimes likes to help us see the benefit of the new and the fresh. 
Haven’t been to a church in a while - come back and visit.  Just sit in the sanctuary and breath in the familiar; let the knowledge of God’s presence wash over you and give you a moment of peace.  Let what is the same as you remember give you a feeling of comfort and security; and let the new give you the understanding of a God who comes to us in ever reinvigorated ways to open our eyes and our hearts.
Coming to church just might be like a vacation that renews and regenerates you to spend time in a place where not only you know you should be, but a place where you feel at home.