The sea has nothing on her in the boldness of her sharp eyes and defiance of her taught little body.
I don't know what game my daughter is playing, but it is clear she is not alone. She addresses the waves, cocks her head, hands on hips, and then shakes her tail defiantly in their direction.
What victories is she claiming?
I have thirty years on her. I can drive. I can tell people what to do. I can ponder more complex thoughts. I can go to bed later. I have more money, I can drink and I can write a book. All she can do is go where I happen to haul her that day, assess the situation, and make up a game that fits.
Looking at it that way, it seems as if I should be the winner. So why don't I feel like it? Like most of you, I have a decent life. A great life, when I stop to think about it. But there are these things…
You know what they are: The “What ifs?” The “If only's.” The past disappointments that have wounded us and shaken our sense of our own goodness. The fears of failing despite risk and hard work.
They're all there today knotting my stomach as they sometimes do, paralyzing me and stripping me of my confidence. I know for a fact that these feelings, these negative tapes playing in my head about my abilities and my future, are not from God. They're not even from me.
They are, I sense, from darkness evil, to put it bluntly, evil that does not want me to be happy, that does not want to see good done in the world through me or through anyone else, and would much rather bind me to my spot on the sand, unable to move since I've been convinced I can't.
I sigh and look out again at the Gulf. I wave to my daughter, whom I can see, and then to the inhabitants of Mexico, whom I cannot. It is a big ocean, a big sky. A big God. Is there enough peace and happiness out there for all of us?
As I rearrange myself on my chair, my daughter safe within my sight, the wind picks up. It is a steady river of air a substance that always surrounds me, intangible unless it moves.
The wind laps my belly and chest, drying drops of sweat it finds there. It streams under my legs, bent up at the knees to support my notebook. It is such a strong current, it seems as if it were to stop, my legs would collapse for lack of support.
Surrounded, supported and even buffeted a bit by the roar of the sea and the steadily streaming wind, I feel embraced and safe even as I bask in unending openness.
Is this like God? Supporting me, holding me up in a world that is wide open, mine for the asking with no limits?
Like Katie, plopped here in this world without being asked my opinion about it, by a Parent who knew, if I opened myself to the experience and made the best of it, I could find a way to pass the time that would bring me peace.
She can do it, using the elements that surround her sea and sand, shells and seaweed to create a space of uncomplicated, yet profound contentment.
I knew she could. I wouldn't have brought her here if I didn't.
Could it be that God might actually have as much confidence in me as I have in my daughter? Maybe, since He's God, even more? You think?
Rising from my chair and plunging into our bit of the vast sea with Katie held fast in my arms, I decide to trust and believe that yes, indeed He does, and together, we watch the waves pull back.
Katie can't help shaking her fist at whatever she was fighting just one last time. She's won her game, and perhaps, I dare to hope, I have as well.