SAUCIER — Days and waves


We spent a week on the Carolina coast.

Each morning, I’d take a chair and a book to the beach. I’d swim in the warm water and then work my way through a few sandy pages, but mostly I’d just sit and stare at the sea.

There is something hypnotic about the waves, lapping at low tide and crashing at high — but always coming in, one after another, in endless repetition.

Far beyond the waves, the expanse of water consumes everything, sucking the horizon into the sea.

There have been many changes on the island over the past 40 years, but the water has not changed. It’s been the same for tourists, slave ships and indigenous fishers, but all that is just a drop in the bucket of ocean time.

This one began to form some 3.8 billion years ago with the fracture of Pangea. Since then, the daily tides have risen and ebbed, and every minute the breakers have rolled to shore.

You might find God in the constancy and profundity of the sea, but it is also easy to lose yourself. We are fleeting nanoseconds compared to the history of the briny deep.

Back at home, we went to the wake of a mother of a friend. She surrendered to time just shy of 100 years.

After the ocean, that didn’t seem like much, but still far more than I expect to see. Her obit held the facts of her life, but I wondered what was going on inside all those years, what lasted like the waves, what came and went like the wind.

Then my sister had a birthday. Decades younger than our friend’s mother, but only 18 months older than me, I am watching her closely as she marks a trail into shrinking time.

I read Psalm 90. After complaining about the brevity of life compared to God’s eternity, the author says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

It’s the days, not years, that count. Jesus numbered His, not with a tote board of people served, but by taking the time to pray.

In the silence of frequent solitude, He saw the blessings of each day, paid attention to the stirrings in His heart, and found His way to others.

I’ve had 25,359 days, but I fear I’ve failed to number many of them, failed to make them count.

Good thing God’s time allows for change.