Thursday, March 11, 2010

Buckets Full of Treasure

This week, to mark the occasion of our 20th wedding anniversary, John and I spent some time away at Phillip Island. I have written about this island here before. It's the setting for my current historical romance. But it's also the setting of real life for my own family. 

Papou and Yiayia's beach house represents so much more to us than just a getaway. It holds memories of beloved family members no longer with us, who paved the way for us to adopt this destination as our family's holiday playground. In the summer, only a short walk from our front door, the rock pools are where each one of our babies discovered the joys of beach-combing, and learned when you slip on a wet rock you end up nappy first in the water. In the winter, the lesson they revisited was how close they could come to the waves without getting a boot full of cold water - a game they still play, but without the gum boots!

Faded beach buckets live under the house now,  covered in cobwebs, but they once held such fine treasures. Rocks, delicate shells, seagull feathers and seaweed berries joined us on the uphill path back to the house, only to be forgotten in the desperate rush for clean baths and food. Plastic boats and shovels sleep under the house too, until perhaps a future generation will dust them off and reclaim them. 

For now though, the beach is a place to sleep, tan, read and master the art of skim boarding. Hole digging is still on the to-do list, but we now use Papou's man size spade and dig holes designed to swallow a small human. Instead of Mum and Dad carrying all the gear, as well as toddlers on their back, we share the job of carting our stuff down to the sand. Like the ebb and flow of the tides, we have not stood still. As a family we are constantly changing and growing. But even with the passing of time, there is one part of this island which remains the same for me.

The summer I was 19 we visited our uncle and aunty at their beach house on the other side of the island.  I snuck away to sit on a windblown cliff top overlooking Bass Strait and pleaded with God to give me a treasure I had spied. I couldn't fit him in a bucket, but he'd  found a place in my heart. A few months later my prayers were answered when John asked me to marry him. I could never have imagined so many of our family's days would be played out near the very spot I had prayed for this man to become my husband. 

We are often at a cross road when we visit Phillip Island with the summer break from school, or the holiday weeks between terms. There is always a new chapter about to begin, and this calls for prayerful thanks to God for sustaining us through what we've passed, and committing ourselves to His will for what's about to come. When I was 19 I only looked ahead at what tomorrow promised. A little over twenty years later, I'm not in such a rush anymore. 

As the years pass like shifting sand, the one true constant is a God who hears and answers prayers. 
Those of a teenager in love, of a young couple just making their way into marriage, prayers of delightful thanks, of heartbreak and sorrow, and prayers for deliverance and guidance. It has and will  always remain the beach where I bring my words to God. 

This weekend we offered many words of gratitude. We looked back a little and dared to dream of future days. God heard and saw it all... as He has always done.

Psalm 66: 19, 20

 God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.

 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer 
      or withheld his love from me!