It was a quiet day, after a week or so of busy day trips,
hikes, steam train rides, aquarium visits
and various assorted other adventures.
A good week of relaxing,
enjoying the beauties of creation and
the quirkiness of human invention.
Our kids and their kids had taken off for some seaside exploration
and a trip to the boardwalk.
We opted to stay home, work a jigsaw puzzle,
edit some photographs and
finish off a few leftovers from the fridge.
After 45 years together,
we've come to deeply appreciate being together
in the same space with little to no conversation.
I can't quite put my finger on why we relish these times,
I just know that we do.
The house we've rented hangs out over the edge of a ridge,
with a view down to the Pacific Ocean.
It's big enough for all of us to spread out a bit,
but not so big as to feel cavernous.
The owners are lovely people and have thought of lots of details
to make our stay enjoyable.
After dinner, I stuck my small camera in my jacket pocket,
and took off to explore the neighborhood a bit,
just as the sun was leaving the sky.
Up the driveway I went, pausing
to admire these daisies gracing the pavement,
and stopping at the red sign to check for traffic.
There was none.
The evening air was still, cool and soothing.
The silhouetted palm trees to the left of the road
brought reminders of our southern CA home
with their grace and elegance.
By now, I was aware of how deep the silence was.
No one was out and about,
the birds were nearly done singing for the day,
and the shadows were lengthening with each step.
The golden grasses by the roadside spoke to the season -
this is summer, after all. Even with the ever-present
morning and evening fog, the ground is dry,
awaiting the rains of autumn.
The startling beauty of 'naked lady' amaryllis
jumped into the silence with a
lovely reminder of color,
vibrancy in the midst of quietness.
The houses on this side of the canyon were newer,
larger, more ostentatious.
And much further apart.
So the silence deepened
as I walked,
as I watched,
as I listened.
The landscaping was upscale,
with beautifully displayed,
lavender, and deep red shrubs.
Up and down the gentle hills I walked,
coming to the end of the road in a broad cul-de-sac.
And it was there that I saw them.
Standing quietly in an open field,
eyeing me with caution but without movement.
"Oh," I whispered.
"You are so beautiful.
I won't hurt you.
I know I'm large and noisy,
but I won't hurt you, I promise.
Just stay there a minute longer
and let me enjoy your grace."
And so they stood there,
quietly watching me watching them:
a picture of attentive watchfulness,
quiet beauty and gentle presence.
This quartet became - for a few moments -
a window into heaven.
A reminder that God is both quietly
and vibrantly beautiful,
strong and gentle,
watchful and patient.
All of that in one 40 minute stroll.
An absolutely perfect ending to a truly lovely day.