Jobs, Careers, Calling, Vocation – all require a great deal of physical and emotional energy. Those of us in ministry are probably more aware of that than in most other jobs. We encourage one another to observe Sabbath and routine self-care, and we can all agree that should be a part of our lives. We even go so far as scheduling vacations, which are many times filled with activities with family and places to see and things to do. Restful only in that the same tasks are not required each day.
This past spring I realized that I truly needed a time to relax, rest, and just be. For me a clear solution was to find a warm place with a beach and water. My husband and I found Tamarindo, Costa Rica, to be that place. We arrived on a rainy, warm night to find a very beautiful and peaceful bungalow waiting for us.
For twelve days we read, slept, walked the beach in the rain and in sunshine, discovered quaro and ate good food. A massage and breakfast on the beach began to break down the tension that I had held onto for three years. The thoughts in my head began to be about beauty and not deadlines, quiet and not listening to anxious conversations, warmth inside and out and not the chill of uncomfortable situations. For me, it took an actual change of place to discover the peace and joy still inside.
The most sacred moment on my vacation happened not just for me, but also in community. The off-season in Tamarindo brings, along with abundant rain, a small but diverse group of people. On only two evenings of the twelve was the sun clearly visible.
On these evenings, people of all ilks who had earlier been swimming or surfing in the warm waters of the Pacific, or shopping for souvenirs, or enjoying an early dinner, or trying to make a few dollars with their juggling, began to gather on the beach silently or in low conversation. Even the parrots, monkeys, and lizards seemed to grow quiet. The sound of the surf and native music from a more inland pub were the only sounds as the sun began to clearly drop into the horizon beyond the sea.
The sun slowly but steadily moved into the warm water whose constant movement never ceased from light into the murkiness of dusk. We had all gathered as a community of whoever was there – no planning, no instructions, no leader, no followers. All equally in awe of the beauty of the moment. When the sun had set, the silence remained, then slowly began to be broken with quiet comments and sighs of appreciation.
The first sunset I saw, I was inspired by the community’s coming together on the beach, but when it happened again, I began to feel the rhythm of life through the sun setting, the waves washing quietly over the volcanic tide pools, and the community gathering on a mile of beach to observe the tangible patterns.
I wonder – how can we observe the miraculous in the rhythm of our daily life? Is it possible to gather as a family or other community at the end of the day, in silent awe of life’s rhythms? When have you been present to an unplanned, sacred moment of community?