July 19, 2010
This trip was a spur of the moment trip. We had planned on going to the gym to workout, then Glen asked me, "Would you rather go workout or go kayaking?"
Now I would rather kayak than just about anything, so there wasn't much use in even asking the question --we decided to head to the bay for kayaking. We rushed to pack the car because we knew we only had a short amount of time before sunset.
We put in at our usual spot off the Causeway into Chacaloochee Bay. This time, instead of heading north up the bay or east to the Apalachee River, we went west toward the city and into the sunset. We set our sights toward the western shore and paddled. I set a mark of the RSA tower and only veered off course to avoid the marshy areas.
Although it was only one and a half miles to the shoreline, it seemed the more I paddled the further away the shore became. Our light was diminishing, too, as the sun -- hidden by a huge cloud -- gradually sunk further into the sky. At one point Glen told me we would have to turn around in five minutes, so that we would have light to reach the put in. I looked to the shore and thought surely if we paddled hard enough we could make it there in five minutes.
After bracing my feet and tightening my core muscles, I stabbed into the water with my paddle and pulled my boat with all the strength I could muster. After a few minutes of that, I stopped to assess my progress and to catch my breath. Glen shouted an update. "We'll turn back in two minutes."
I still had two minutes to try and catch that shoreline. I paddled again, but not with the same intensity, and soon the marsh which lines the shore was in sight, within a few strokes. I turned my boat toward Glen's just as he was telling me it was time to turn back. Since I know I would not have wanted to, or attempted to, paddle through that marsh, I consider we were close enough to the shore to say we had met our goal.
On the return paddle, with our backs to the western sky, we couldn't see the glorious sunset unfolding. At one point we stopped and turned to watch the sun paint the sky and water colors that have no names. Then we continued to the put in and sat motionless in our boats, watching the sunset and marveling in the beauty of our God who could create such a scene.
It was a wonderful trip. The temperature, of both water and air, were perfect. The large cloud kept us cool and provided reflections of the sun that amazed us. Then it moved just in time for us to watch the sun dip into the water. The breeze refreshed us and challenged us as we paddled against it.
We topped off our trip with a visit to a local coffee shop where the folks didn't mind if our shorts and shoes were wet, but were glad to have to see us and share their coffee.
Frances and I had one of those unplanned experiences yesterday that turned into an amazing time of wonder and blessedness.
We had planned all day to work out in the early evening. The day was very nice, however, and the thought occurred to me that a kayaking trip might be a little more pleasurable than lifting weights.
“Would you like to go kayaking instead of work out?” I asked Frances. Although she enjoys working out - I think - I didn’t have to twist her arm. “Let’s go!” she responded, and we had packed, traveled, and were in the water in less than 40 minutes.
The afternoon was a joy in every respect. We paddled in a familiar river, but decided to go west instead of our usual journey to the east. The sky was clear except for a very large cloud bank in the west that blocked the setting sun. This made for a very moderate temperature, and with a gentle breeze, we were more than comfortable and didn’t even break a sweat (amazing for a mid-July afternoon in the subtropics!).
More wonderfully, however, the aforementioned cloud bank created a beautiful filter for the rays of the sun. Frances and I both love clouds, especially those that accompany sunrises and sunsets (see her accompanying photos). You see colors in the sky that defy description and label, not to mention the sparkling hues that dance on the water.
The latter vision transfixed my gaze yesterday. The river was fairly choppy, and the movement, coupled with the filtered light of the sun, created on the water the most beautiful color of pale blue, or gray, or white, or, well, I don’t know! Again, words haven’t been for the palette of the Artist who sometimes seems to enjoy dazzling us with new displays of His beauty, creativity, and desire to fill our hearts with unmitigated joy.
This surely happened yesterday. Every minute of our voyage involved the thought and expression of how great and good is our God. I recall the same feeling while listening to the music of the Boston Pops Symphony several months ago when it seemed that every note, melody, and harmony caused me to tell the Lord, “You are so beautiful!” I have been graced throughout my lifetime with so many such moments, and as I have often surmised, if our Heavenly Father chose to never bless me again, I would still be indebted to Him forever.
I am also reminded of the cost that made such blessed possible. Every good thing in our lives comes to us by way of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. His sorrow, agony forsakenness and death purchased for us the loving favor of the God who rejoices in our joy. “He giveth us richly all things to enjoy” declared the Apostle Paul who also proclaims the price for the blessed we will forever know. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” (I Timothy 6:17; II Corinthians 8:9).
Finally, the gift of sharing such a moment with Frances made the experience completely overwhelming. As I wrote in a song to her about our kayaking experiences last year,
“Another day is given to us to share the wonder of grace, a gift for which I could never find a way to give enough thanks.”