At Sunrise



At sunrise, everything is new, un-invaded, unburdened and just- free.

As difficult as it was to rise at 5:30 a.m. while on vacation? I felt it was not a choice. I had to awaken before the dawning of the new day, if I slumbered, it would be lost. Yes, there would no doubt be another for the next day- but it wouldn’t be the same as this particular sunrise. So, I made my way through the darkened room, leaving quietly as if on some secret mission, setting out alone. I am selfish in this moment as if it is going to appear only for me.

I see the haze from around the bend, I know it is there on the edge of the horizon and I anticipate its arrival. At sunrise, everything has a new beginning….this morning, I know that mine is there too.

Why is it that the sea brings me so much respite, the dawn of a new day? It is almost as if I spend the entire year making this journey to the tide, the place where I speak from my soul, no use for the words under my breath. It has been this way for me since my first sight of the sand at the age of sixteen. I continue to see it as a new beginning, one that only comes at sunrise.

sunrise1The first few steps onto the strand are always the same. I no longer notice the people on the same walk, perhaps they are here for the same reason? They seem to have no need for words, only nods as they pass by me. It is here I begin my ritual. I sense the Creator’s hand painting the first hue, adding flares of light, until I have to still. I watch in silence as the sunrise slowing becomes more visible. Here, it doesn’t matter about past tense, future tense.. only now, this quiet moment that turns my soul to quiet reflection. It has the same effect, no matter how many times I make this journey. Time does not exist in this moment, only the view of the sunrise and my urge to walk towards it … I walk until my mind is focused only on what I came for..reflecting. I begin to count my blessings, knowing that in a very short time I will be reduced to tears, humbled by the fact that they are not earned but gifted through the Creator’s grace. The next step of this sought out journey begins – the first stone glistens from the light and I solemnly bend to pick it up, washing it in the tide.


I reflect with each stone, each journey will hold its own number, until I have completed this walk. It is a time for my soul to speak, one on one with God. It is here, at sunrise, with no reservations that I continue towards the fiery glow. There will be time, endless time, that I am alloted for this moment.

The stones will represent not only my thoughts, but my wishes, dreams, hopes for those I love. Some stones will be gathered with grace for those I don’t. It’s okay here to admit these also. There is nothing hidden from Him on this journey. I am in my own sense of soul bearing freedom, the way I should be any ordinary day, but here it is different. I am small, the least of anything….against the background of His vast creation.

My hand  becomes filled with the tiny round stones until I realize the purpose of some of them are not for me to keep. They are the things that weigh me down, my worries, the things I hold onto but cannot change. I petition for change, I hold onto them with a tight grip in my hand until I feel their heaviness. I want to fix them, turn them into good stones, but I know I cannot continue to keep these- they are not treasures, only things beyond my control. I stop to wipe my tears, and I make the decision to toss far as I can into the sea, disappearing into the deep. This is the difficult part of the walk…but the most needed at times. It is renewal.

It is time for me to reluctantly turn away from the sunrise and begin the walk back, this time I feel lighter, warming from the sun rising on the back of my neck. The new day is here, it will not wait. One can learn much from this walk at sunrise. I will do it all again on another day, not that I am incapable of learning from the first walk, but each new day brings its own heaviness, its own gifts and thankfully, a new portion of grace.

I make my way up from the sandy beach, the tide is going out and I am left with the stones remaining in my pocket, my treasures, the reminders of my favorite things, hope, joy and most of all love….they are the only ones that are kept today.


I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”Genesis 35:2-4









It is early when we awaken at the beach. Time has a way of speedily escaping us while we are on vacation, we are determined to make the most of every single day. We are not in a hurry here, but we do know that it will all too soon it will be time to pack up our little “cabana” on the beach until another day.

Glunking, treasure hunting, beachcombing…it’s what we do while we are here. Who knew there were so many things to see on this sandy strand? Our goal is to find sea glass or as some call it “beach trash” large or small, it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day? we never come back empty-handed.

The process is different for each of the three of us. One is usually searching amongst the crushed shelly area, one is searching along the water’s edge, and the other, somewhere in between the high tide mark and the line of stranded shells. Each day brings something different, some days are a larger find, while others have been scarce. Maybe that is why we cherish each piece, some of them take a while to find. We have been known to be competitive, but they quickly become family treasures that belong to us all.


So we walk, and walk some more – and we remind ourselves to look up ever so often, not to disregard the beauty swirling all around us. The sun is our friend on these treasure excursions, glistening down on the glass, just waiting for one of us to notice. The smallest of shaped objects are often found by color or shape, and mostly when you have just about given up finding anything. We know by the last couple of years of searching that to give up, will mean lost treasures. It is our week of pirating what the ocean tosses us by tide or by storm. It always gives something…..always.


Piece by piece….. we gather them into our shell bag, hearing the clink of the glass and shells, anticipating what the end of the day will bring.

The greatest thing about beachcombing? Our treasures always include more than sea glass. Whether they come from the priceless time that we spend together, splashing in the water, digging in the sand, or just the laughter that finds us there? They are gifts; days that we spend carelessly yet time that we count as gems.

This particular trip has brought some unusual finds – some a little creepy (what the blazes is a worm snake?) some just plain amazing and unexpected. It is these that make beach combing more than looking for sea glass! Unusual finds like heart-shaped stones, shells, fossilized shark teeth, an actual shark, jellyfish, sandfiddlers and even a hinge from a ship… make it all treasure.


Yes, another vacation is soon coming to a close…we will add to our collection of treasures and look forward to the next one…for today, we will just enjoy our last hours of beachcombing, until the tide inches its way up to the dunes, churning more treasures out of the vast body of water – leaving something for the next family of beachcombers.



Gathering on the Grove


Long before the road was built and the land was fully cleared, I made the walk across the grassy foot path to the grove as a little girl. No matter how long or short my visit there was? My cousin would make sure we fit in the time to go there. She would simply say “let me know when you want to go to see your daddy” then we would go about finishing whatever we were doing. We had been making this walk since I was ten years old, gathering on the grove, picking whatever flowers were blooming at the time to place on the lone grave of my 30-year-old Daddy.


Since those years of making that solemn walk, the grove has been filled with many more of my family, the people whom I have loved and cherished memories on into my adult life. The grove that started out being the place he picked to build a home, is now the resting place of those that have gone on. I made the journey there again this year for the annual Mills’ Memorial Service, gathering on the grove for the first time since my Mother was laid to rest there several years ago.


The grove has always been a peaceful place, even as a child. Now, as an adult, it remains the same filled with even more memories of those I love. Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and Cousins, it will always be a bittersweet place to visit. It had been too long since this last trip.

The gathering this year was much more needed for me, maybe because I am older, maybe because it has always been the place that I felt “home.”  Surrounded by cousins, too many to count and two of my Daddy’s last surviving siblings, (one of which led me to believe she couldn’t make it.. only to surprise me when I got there!) I needed to feel connected to my beginnings, the place I came from.

I can’t tell you which part of this journey to the grove made the most impact. I was able to attend the church service that began from my Uncle’s pulpit, listen to my family sing hymns and play music and be a part of testimony after testimony of how God had been faithful. Gathering with those that are and were a part of my tapestry, was a feeling of unconditional love that is not often a part of our ordinary daily lives. We were there, together, to enjoy every part of family, catching up with one another and meeting those that had been added to our circle of love.

There were many times that my heart ran overfilled during this visit. I watched my daughter enjoy cousin time, like I was afforded growing up, I don’t think she realized until this particular visit how large her family was on my side, for this I was especially grateful.


I watched my cousin, who is more like a sister, open up her home and welcome everyone that came by regardless of their “kinship” in our family. She will never know how much love I felt in her presence. (yes, I know this is a goofy picture of us…but this has always been US!)


I found myself stealing away by myself with tears, being thankful that I was able to be there this year. I don’t even think my husband realized how much I adored him for jumping through hoops to get me there this year – thank you for melting my heart- one of my love moments with you.


I don’t know how often I will make it to the grove in the years to come? Probably not as often as I will wish, but when I do? I will cherish the time, count the blessings, and never take it for granted. Although there were sad goodbyes, I left with my heart overflowing, knowing that the miles between us will always be too many, but the distance between our hearts will always be less. No matter how many years pass from gathering on the grove, it will always seem like yesterday when we pick up where we left off…just as it always has – that is what makes it so special. For this time, I can say that “my cup runneth over” and I look forward to my next “Gathering on the Grove.”


To all of my family… near and far – thank you for making this such a special place in my heart.