It was a cold and foggy morning here on the Chesapeake Bay. We bundled up and headed to our favorite beach for walking, hoping the fog would dissipate in time. It did not. Instead, the fog gathered itself up and morphed into a light drizzle. We continued on. There is nothing quite like the unique calm of a beach with a horizon obscured by thick low clouds, barely audible lapping of water against a pebbly shore and a deep grey shroud of fog hiding anything beyond 10 ft of your path.
At first we thought we were the only stalwart beachcombers this morning…then eerily, like a scene out of a scary movie, something dark and ominous moved just beyond us. As we got closer, the image took the shape of a tall man carrying a bag of some sort. This is how we met Joe, an elderly gentleman and fellow beachcomber.
He was moving slowly, eyes focused on the ground around him, obviously collecting something from the shoreline. Curious, we stopped to ask what he was collecting. Clamming and shelling are common efforts of locals just after high tides and storms, but Joe was not common. “I’m gathering stones and such for my wife, she uses them to make things”, he said as he held out his most recent find, an odd shaped cream colored stone. His gloved hand shook a bit as he handed his treasure to me. The stone was rather normal looking, but I knew his wife no doubt saw creative potential in the things he gathered. “Any day I am able, I come out here to look for things for her.” My heart melted. I tried to return the stone, but he insisted I keep it. I placed it in my pocket, certain I would simply drop it once we were no longer within his sight, but as we walked away I kept thinking about Joe.
Since I was not wearing gloves on this cold day, my hands frequently returned to my pockets. Each time my hand would encounter Joe’s stone. Absent mindedly, I would run my thumb over the cool, smooth stone that fit perfectly in my palm. I pictured Joe, braving the wicked weather of the day, to hunt for treasures for his wife. His words, “every day I am able” kept running through my thoughts. I have kept this stone in my pocket for these last few weeks. I just can’t bring myself to toss it. I can feel its weight each time I put my arms into the sleeves of my jacket…almost eager to put my hand into my pocket to confirm that it is still there. It is comforting. On morning walks with my husband, I let my thumb rest against it in my pocket and hear Joe’s words “every day I am able”. When running errands I place my car keys in my jacket pocket and feel the stone still there…again I hear, “every day I am able”.
At my local grocery store I overhear this transaction between a kind cashier and the man in line behind me.
Cashier: good morning, how are you today?
Customer: I don’t know just yet, I’ll see what the day brings
Cashier: Well, you’re standing and this side of the ground, so that’s something
I walked out to my car, reached into my pocket for my key…Joe’s stone is still there…”every day I am able.”
Before leaving that parking lot I took a breath…Lord, thank you for every day I am able…for every day I am able to stand above ground. Help me not take for granted being able to learn, grow, fail and try again, to love and do for others and seek to honor You with every day I am able.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” Romans 12:10-12