“Look over there!
I can see the beach from here.”
She said it about 30 miles from home. And a good 5 hours from the beach. That’s my Baby Girl. She hasn’t quite grasped the concepts of time and distance. She’s still young and innocent enough to live her days unhindered by the sequence of things like days and hours. Anytime before right now could have been yesterday. And probably was. Anywhere but here might as well be where we just were. And probably is. A special and exciting place could very easily be right over there. And probably is. I think what Baby Girl actually saw might have been a factory, and what made it bear a resemblance to the beach, I don’t know. Still, she got my attention from the back seat.
We were driving home from a week in Gulf Shores, Alabama filled with no schedules, lots of sun, and new experiences. That week, Baby Girl saw the beach for the first time. Up until this trip it had been something we should do one day or something we were planning for or waiting for. The beach was this place of anticipated fun, filled with all the things only her imagination could conjur. The beach was something she knew she should be excited about. And she was.
I don’t know if the actual experience of the beach measured up to her imagination. In actuality, Baby Girl’s beach was filled with getting knocked over by waves and standing up again. Meticulously constructing sand castles. Gathering shells and shell parts. Testing her courage (and mine) in the swimming pool nearby. Riding up an elevator to our “beach house.” Staying up until wee hours. Driving past goofy golf for pancakes or chicken nuggets or a walking through the souvenir shop. The one with the big shark mouth at the doorway that made it the “shark store.”
Baby Girl has been to the beach now. She’s seen it and played in it and experienced her own version of it. Yet somehow it must still exist so vibrantly in her imagination. She brought it home with her in some combination of experiences and anticipations.
We were coming home still bathed in the beach’s spell. Yet, my mind, at least, was shifting into transition mode. “Reality” mode. Some of the trip had been twinged with melancholy, the call of struggles from home reaching us even there. At least reaching me and my staunch desire to keep it from reaching anyone else. And I knew we were coming home to some changes — changes it would be my job to process and interpret for my little beach babies.
I don’t know what she saw that night on the way home when she shouted, “I can see the beach.” I wish I did. I wanted to ask her what looked like the sand or the surf or the waves, but I knew she couldn’t tell me. I knew it was just something — something in her thoughts and her special view of life. Something she knew she saw. And everything in me wanted to cry, “it IS right there.” “I can see it too!”
I’ve been thinking about that drive and Baby Girl’s little declaration for the three weeks since we returned. I’ve been thinking about her perspective. And searching for it. A perspective outside of time and space, released from the boundaries they often place on our hope and joy. I wonder if it is in these Baby Girl moments that we are most like God, in whose image we are made. Most able to think like him. To grasp His perspective. The unbounded view. To see with certainty that precious place of peace and joy and anticipation and hope. Regardless of time or distance or circumstance. And the miles they take us.
I can see it from here.
Gift Tags are the tiny messages God continues to include with my gifts — 2 little joys of boys and 1 little jewel of a girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)