As I write this it’s Day 8 of my 10 days off.
The first five days were a blur of not doing much — reading, laundry, cleaning out my bathroom junk drawer. I watched a lot of reality TV, dozed on the couch, thought about washing my windows, made a pot of black beans one day, which were very good, thought about cleaning out the refrigerator.
Then came Day 6 — Beach Day. We strapped our bikes onto the back of the truck and drove to Clearwater Beach, the clear, blue sky and hot, hot sun designed by the chamber of commerce.
Or perhaps God.
Armed with a blanket and a can of spray sunscreen, I found a spot on the crowded beach down near the water while my husband, not a fan of beach sitting, took off on his bike.
Sitting on my blanket, I made some observations. Number one: Most people can stand to lose about 20 pounds. Number two: A 3-year-old boy with a watering can and a bucket is about as happy as a person can be.
Number three: In 50 years there will be an awful lot of 70- and 80-year-olds with wrinkly, saggy tattoos.
Number four: A woman with big hips and legs can get away with wearing a bikini if she’s got a flat stomach. Ladies, if it jiggles, it should be covered. I’m just sayin’.
Number five: It wasn’t until Day 6 of my 10 days off that I finally started to rest.
As I sat on the beach listening to the constant rhythm of the waves, feeling the sun on my back and watching my skin turn brown, I kept reciting verse 3 from Psalm 23, “He restoreth my soul.” He restoreth my soul!
The psalmist wrote that the Lord, his (and our) shepherd, leads his sheep beside still waters, but the Lord had led me to the churning, ebbing and flowing gulf waters and a busy, crowded beach filled with loud music and noisy people talking on cell phones and fussing with each other.
Peace and soul restoration aren’t always found in the absence of turmoil and chaos. Sometimes it’s found smack in the middle of it.
He restorethed my soul because it needed it and I wanted it and had asked him for it.
After about an hour I joined up with my husband and we rode our bikes, stopping for icy, cold drinks and hot, boiled shrimp and crunchy, sweet hush puppies. A little boy who had been out on a fishing boat showed us the grouper he caught.
On the drive home it rained and lightning bolts zig-zagged at all angles across the sky. It was as perfect a day as perfect can get.
The next day I designated Cupcake Day. We drove to our favorite nearby town that has a cute little shop that sells only cupcakes. I picked out four — Red Velvet, “Hot Chocolate” (tiny marshmallows were involved) and two of my favorite, Cookie Dough. I ate three entire cupcakes when I got home and gave one to Betty, a cashier at the market up the street.
Today, Day 8, I rode my bike to have coffee with my friend Charlie from the bike shop and watched more reality TV.
The Lord, my shepherd, still restoreth my soul.
One of the observations of Day 6, Beach Day, was of how salty my skin tasted. (I confess — I licked my arm.) At the beginning of the week I had decided to spend some time with Matthew, as in “the gospel of.”
He writes about Christians being salty, saying, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?” (Matthew 5:13, The Message)
Sometimes I get so busy and I worry about losing my saltiness. It was good to taste it, to remember, to be reminded who I am and whose I am and why I am here. It’s good to work, and it’s good to rest. We humans need both to function.
I can’t wait to see what Day 9 and 10 bring.
He restoreth my soul, indeed.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at email@example.com.