*The times, dates, and tenses are off on this post. Oh well.
If I am being quite truthful (and I like to think I am known to be, especially here. To the point of, gah! Please make the truth stop, I can’t unsee it!!), I don’t love San Diego. I keep meeting people who have lived here for decades and declare it to be the most beautiful place on earth (although according to an Uber driver from Afghanistan who drive me across the crazy curved bridge today, it is not as easy to get fentanyl in San Diego as it is in Seattle. I felt like I should try and argue the point, but who are we kidding? He was probably right and I am disinclined to argue drug distribution with strangers), but that just makes me think they have never been to an Eastern Washington orchard or Mt. Rainier.
But I have truly enjoyed my trip, which ends tomorrow, in large part because God has provided in really unexpected ways. I have been treated to wonderful meals and chatty bartenders, to trees with roots that look exactly like the tattoo on my upper thigh (probably not the comparison you were hoping for. See above), to dramatic flowers and froofy coffee, and possibly the best flour tortillas I have ever tasted. I have enjoyed laughter with my Glamorous Friend and truly exceptional French desserts that became fantastic breakfast (why don’t we all make bread pudding out of croissants and berries? Oh yeah. Because we want to fit into elevators). Today, though… today took the cake.
Not the cake that is still in my mini-fridge. That is getting “taken” in a few minutes when it gets renamed “dinner.” Right now it is named truffe framboise and orange ricotta (oops… 2 cakes…). It is so excited to grow into dinner.
I spent today on Coronado Island. The aforementioned Uber driver started my day off right by playfully (I think?) offering to kick the kneecaps of the people who were hollering at me from the upper window (turns out, I am catnip to crazy. I think the tattoos make them dizzy). Well, to kick them and then run. It seemed thoughtful. Then he took me to the beautiful resort island of Coronado. Initially, I planned to rent one of these funny fat electric bikes and putter about the island, but as soon as he dropped me off, I caught sight of a bistro called Little Frenchie.
It was so peaceful. Apparently touristy islands midweek, especially the day after Labor Day, are notoriously quiet, so I enjoyed a buckwheat crepe filled with spinach and capers and salmon and hot black coffee and a Dorothy Sayers novel. That is one thing I forgot to mention in my bullet points of yore — I became acquainted with Lord Peter Whimsey this summer and am thoroughly hooked (thanks to Gracious Hyper-Intelligent Thoughtful Type Friend who officially needs a shorter name. I’ll work on that). Turns out, he is also good company in French bistros.
Actually, I have no objection to traveling/eating/wandering alone. Doesn’t bother me, and it turns out, I rather like not ever feeling guilty that I might only spend 30 seconds looking at a Chagall or that I like looking at things and not being on a clock. I often feel sheepish if I am walking about with someone; I am impulsive, I like to shop, I am drawn to coffee shop t-shirts and handmade but pointless jewelry, I strike up conversations with strangers and yes, sometimes they propose to me or try to get me to move to Utah and become a polygamist (random, yet it happened), but it always strikes me as funny and I love collecting interesting people and stories.
So today, I found my way down to the white sandy beaches. It was cloudy and comfortable outside; there always seems to be a cool breeze here no matter what the temperature or humidity is (91 percent yesterday for inquiring minds who want to know) and I found the waves mesmerizing. I have been studying the psalms of ascent, working on writing a new study, and as I gazed at the waves crashing in and out, my attention was drawn downward… and upward. The Creator Himself draws the waves, and despite the might and the power of the sea, constantly trying to overflow the land, it is held in its place by His own sovereign hands.
The same hands that hold me.
I wiggled myself into a sand dune, planted my toes an inch away from the line where the waves came racing and then abruptly stopped… for an hour. Over and over again, the water never allowed to pass over me. I fell asleep on the sand, listening to Genesis, and having those weirdos who run kick sand onto my face (realistically, they are probably thinking it is more weird to stumble onto a tattooed woman in a black jumpsuit and headphones stretched out on the sand, but I think we can’t both be right and there I leave it) and feeling the ocean turn my lips salty to the taste.
It couldn’t pass the line of demarcation… until God said it could. Then I woke up with a jolt as the cool water splashed on my feet, and I was promoted — higher up the beach. Come further up, further in.
Your suffering has a limit. You may feel like the weeds are wrapped around your head, like the depths of the sea have washed over you, like you are living in a tsunami that absolutely never relents. But know, know deep down in your salt-water soaked bones, that these waters are on a leash. Your trials are not permitted to go past what the Lord God who made heaven and earth have appointed, and every time you find yourself getting soaked in a new way, a new location, with colder water than before, you can know with certainty that God is calling you to come further up, to journey further in to the comforts of His embrace. Water drives us to land; woes drive us to the Lord.
Because I have raccoon tendencies and am drawn to shiny things, I came out of this trip with a small, cheap piece of jewelry, a momento, if you will, of the things God showed me about Himself down on the California coast — right now, I wear the small charm around my ankle that has the outline of a wave for the glad reminder that no water of suffering passes my feet unless and until my Father says so. I can sleep in the storm, rest by the wily ocean, be peppered by sand and pain and yet be utterly secure, because the ocean knows its Master, and because of Jesus, we serve the same Master.