Strong coffee in a sturdy mug, blue jeans with a crease in the left leg from being laundered on a trip in 2014, an old blue shirt so frayed around the edges it could almost be mistaken for white trimmed, still deciding between sneakers, hiking boots, flip-flops, socks or nothing on my feet at all, and sunlight playing peek a boo through a gathering blanket of clouds. The day is wide open,
Coffee, a chance to pause, reflect, plan; a time for conversations, hugs, laughter, tears, warmth, strength. Comfort in a cup for moments of solitude, and a reason in itself to get-together with friends and loved ones. Liquid energy to stir the creative thoughts and complete those important tasks, and a means by which the beauty of the present moment can be savored, sometimes in an antique china cup. ~ Coffee, the perfect excuse to take snapshots along morning walks and send them to my sisters throughout the year so we can all have a coffee break together, wherever we all may be. ~ Coffee, it’s so much more than just coffee.
It’s Tuesday here, and during this time of the year I take advantage of the option to work from my remote office, aka my back porch.
The morning and early afternoon was spent with calendars, books, and websites, listing topics and lessons for this coming season in youth ministry. It’s an uplifting exercise in planning. Serious topics with positive reinforcements to help some of the best middle school age youth I know, try to grow in their relationships with one another and Christ despite everything that will try to dissuade them as they encounter more and more of this world. I do this planning away from people, away from human chatter, away from news reports, I don’t even play the radio during this time. Even so, it is far from silent here on the porch.
Today the backdrop for this task is one of tall, old oak trees with full branches of deep summer green leaves, appearing a brilliant gold shade in the morning sunlight and nearly black in the afternoon cloud cover swaying in the soft and much appreciated summer breeze. It’s hot out on the porch, but it’s worth it. My “office mates” on the other side of the screen are a pair of cardinals chirping sweetly at the turning pages and scribbled notes, a few finches peek in from time to time and a humming-bird hovers at the bushes and seems to be interested on what’s going on as well.
These happy and graceful birds, singing to and with one another through the heat and humidity draw my attention upward. Away from the computer, away from the papers, they remind me to be still a few moments and experience the day. Soon enough the rush of a more structured schedule will return, and perhaps I will recall these moments through these words. To stand and get the camera would send them flying away, and any still photograph would not aptly capture this day of most beautiful sights and songs. So, I will stay in the heat a while longer, planning for cooler days and soaking up these most joyful noises.
Recently, I happened to be in the right place at the right time to receive an amazing invitation to Kiawah Island, South Carolina with some wonderful women for a few days. It’s good to travel to nice places, but it’s more important to travel with good people. This unexpected trip was both, and so much more.
This post is all about capturing the small moments, those “bookend” times of the day when one can carve out a few moments of solitude to simply be, and simply be aware of where we are and grateful for our time here.
Allow me to share a few of the beautiful sights and moments experienced within these 13 or so square miles along the edge of the Atlantic. First up: Arrival!
This beautiful place has miles and miles and miles of trails. Level, well-marked, well maintained trails. Where the trails end, there are more miles of well packed sand at the edge of the Atlantic, just perfect for strolling or cruising. Walking and bicycling were the preferred means of transportation throughout much of the stay on Kiawah.
With bags stowed in the condo and sunset approaching, one of the first activities was to find a spot for the best show in the area! A little side note here: Early in the drive, our theme song became Castle On The Hill by Ed Sheeran. Looking at this photo now, watching the pelicans fly over the nearby Sanctuary Hotel that could easily be mistaken for a castle in the sunset that first evening, that song fits so well.
Mornings are a favorite time for me, especially at the beach, any beach, but I had no idea the beauty and majesty awaiting me on my first morning walk at Kiawah. I happened upon a couple of bucks looking for breakfast!
He must have heard me behind him and turned around. For just a few seconds he walked towards me on the boardwalk. I backed up accordingly to give him his space.
After a couple of minutes, the buck turned around and joined a friend for breakfast in the dunes. A lovely cardinal flew into the frame just as I snapped the picture.
The condo where we stayed had a wonderful kitchen with ample beautiful and comfortable spaces to enjoy meals and conversation. But one night we ventured out to a restaurant at Bohicket Marina. Oh.My.Goodness! Yes, the food was delicious, yes the company was delightful, yes the conversation included A LOT of laughter; but upon exiting the building we were greeted by the twilight sky settling in for the night over the boats.
Heavy clouds gathered throughout the night. Summertime thunderstorms are a reality here, but the boats seem determined to shine with their reflections despite the imposing darkness.
The next morning the clouds seemed to want to linger a little longer and enjoy the sunrise as well. Who could blame them? Later this beach will be filled with people enjoying the sunshine and surf, but for now it’s nearly deserted.
I love those glowing moments, when even the air seems saturated between the actual light and the reflection from the water.
More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ lone shrimp boat heading out to sea.
More morning scenes from Kiawah ~ Sunrise reflections from the pond. There’s a sign warning of alligators, but they stayed out of sight on this trip.
As much as I adore the pictures of and on the beach, this picture is one of my favorites from this trip. This is the walkway to the beach following an overnight rainstorm. Fallen leaves, blown by the wind and rain, lay undisturbed as I approached on my morning walk. Perhaps in this picture there’s a hint of how spectacular autumn will be along this trail.
What you don’t see in these pictures are the in-between moments. Images of conversations over coffee, morning chats, laughter over wine, bonding between a mother and her recent high school graduate daughter, friendships growing, rest and renewal.
What I hope you see are images of a beautiful place where these and more wonderful things happened, all because one person chose to extend an amazing invitation.
While leaving, I stopped for one more sign. The Sanctuary Resort sign adorned with Old Glory in preparation for the Independence Day festivities.
Our sign upon arrival simply stated where we were, our sign on departure simply stated what we had experienced ~ Sanctuary.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
You can see it in the approaching clouds, an angry sky ushering in the thunderstorm air, energetic, powerful, destructive and cleansing all at once. It’s terrifyingly beautiful.
This was the scene earlier this afternoon a little ways up the road. That’s the storm rolling in over the Cane Creek Mountains. Yes, I stopped in the middle of the road to take the picture, there was no other traffic around.
Fast forward a couple of hours, and I’m home enjoying the rhythm of the rain rushing through the leaves, driven hard by the wind. That same wind is dancing with the branches, making them swirl and sway in a summer storm tango.
Hang in there big trees, hang in there!
I’m drinking it all in from the relative shelter of a screened in porch: the wind, the rain, the grumbling thunder and even the lightning that cracks across the darkening sky.
This is a good one, and I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy the lullaby of the rain and wind through the thunderstorm air.
~ Can’t wait to see the sunrise tomorrow, somehow sunshine always seems brighter after storms ~
Look up. It is in the darkness of night that the moon and stars become brilliant. The soft blues and stunning oranges and reds of sunrise and sunsets often make us stop in our tracks, take slower breaths, and marvel at the glory and beauty above us. But what about the darkness? Ah ~ that beautiful darkness far away from streetlights and cities where the moon beams bathe the earth in the softest glow.
First full moon of 2017
A few clouds drifting across the full moon
Full moon view through clouds & trees
Tonight a few wispy clouds lingered close to the rising moon, a brief embrace of sorts before floating away on the breeze. Westward, stars are more visible – even Mars and Neptune are keeping watch over all that moves tonight – but my focus remains in the eastern sky as the moon slowly makes it’s way higher.
Perhaps in summer there would be owls chatting or whippoorwills calling through trees, but on this night the winds carry a chorus of yips and high barks from coyotes in the surrounding woods. Somehow that seems appropriate as we welcome once again this “Wolf Moon” of January. ~ Peace ~
“And at the eventide, again may we give thanks unto Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Gelasian Sacramentary A.D. 494)