This week the family and I are vacationing in Holden Beach, NC. (Unfortunately it is quickly approaching the end.) We have been coming here for twenty years. We have missed a year here and there, but it has been THE vacation spot for the Bevere family.
But that never would have happened had it not been for a spur of the moment invitation to come here for two days by a just retired couple who were members of one of the two churches I served while we lived in North Carolina. Carol and I had moved from Ohio to NC so that I could attend graduate school at Duke Divinity School. I was able to get a two-point student charge about an hour and a half away from Duke. Jack and Ruth, who had just retired, "adopted us" as we were a young couple far away from home.
After two years it was time for us to return home. We were about three to four days away from packing up the U-Haul to head for Ohio when Jack and Ruth invited us and our daughter Alyssa, who was nine months old, to go to Holden Beach with them for a couple of days. We were somewhat hesitant; there was so much to do before we moved, but we accepted their invitation, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Without that invitation, we likely would never have come to Holden Beach all these years. At the time, it didn't seem like something that would influence our lives over time. We were just spending some time with two special people and enjoying watching our nine month old daughter (who will be twenty-one this September) sitting on the beach with the surf coming up around her soaking her diaper.
Jack and Ruth are gone now, but they unknowingly gave us a wonderful gift. They introduced us to a place where our family has made many wonderful memories throughout the years. Our children love it here, and I am relatively sure that they will bring their future families here at some point.
How much we miss in the present moment. Events happen and we never stop to think whether what is happening now will make a difference for the future. So often the significance of life is found in the times that slip by without much notice; the days that pass routinely when we are focused on the perceived bigger moments yet to come. I suppose it is too much to ask for us to know those little but life-changing times. We can only see them for what they were as we look back upon them. But at times I think it would have been nice to stand on the beach those twenty years ago and realized that those two days would make a great difference in my life and in the life of my family.
But then again, perhaps the significant moments need time to unfold in our lives. Perhaps they gain their importance not as one moment, but as many moments that come together over a lifetime and weave a tapestry of meaning that can only come together in the walk of life. Maybe I wouldn't want to know what moments are significant; for perhaps the joy of discovery is found only when we stand back and look at the big picture of life. Just maybe the joy can only be had, not in isolating the times of life from other times; the joy can only be found in the midst of the journey. Isolated moments are not isolated; they form a narrative without which the singular moments make no sense.
I think it is time to go to the beach.