We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NLT)
We have to listen to learn. (wisdom from a fellow sojourner on the beach)
As our adventure nears its end, there are a couple of things I planned to do. My desire was to hike the 2.5 miles to the northern most point of Honeymoon Island and to visit its sister island, Caladesi.
Les was reluctant to go over to Caladesi with our boat because the route there tends to have shallow areas. Thanks to some encouragement from our neighbors at the marina, and a visit from our friend, Mike, we decided to boat over to the island. It boasts the best beach in America. We followed the buoys that marked the channel, and then through the mangrove lined waters to the marina without any trouble. Once there, we walked over to the beach. It was pretty, but Honeymoon Island had already stolen my heart, especially North Beach.
Here are some photos from our excursion to Caladesi Island:
Today, I returned to Honeymoon Island to tackle the hike out to the northern point and then on the walk back, I wanted to collect shells. Shell collecting is a natural pasttime, especially on the best beach for shelling. (This region tends to throw the word “best” around quite a bit.) On my bike rides over to the island the past couple weeks, I started picking up shells for my “collection.” I have a shell book to help me to identify the shells, although I tend to pick the shells that inspire me with their shape, color or texture.
One day, I asked a local person what kind of shells she collected. She mentioned minatures, and I admitted that I just picked up ones that looked nice to me. She called my choices: “yankee shells”. I laughed. And we parted ways.
Today, I found the broken crown of a large whelk shell, which I thought would make a cool catch-all. I was carrying it in my hand, when I came across the same woman. We had a good laugh over my find. She said that would be a shell that Canadians collect. I continued on my hike up toward the northern point.
From the beginning my hike was not turning out like I expected. I figured that the beach would be abandoned like past mornings. As I approached the beach, a couple stopped me and asked if I knew anything about the park. I said sorta. They wanted to hike one of the trails. I told them that the beach trail was my favorite. So, they joined me for part of the way, while I pointed out sites and we compared life stories. They had a sailboat in Chesapeake bay, but were doing a car tour of the southeastern shore and now back up the gulf side of Florida. It was nice to have their company. They turned back at the halfway point and took this picture for me.
Continuing north, I snapped photos and marvelled at this lovely spot to commune with God and nature. There were lots of friendly people along the beach wishing me well, reporting that a dead sea turtle was ahead and proclaiming what a fabulous day we were experiencing. The seas were calm, the breeze light and the sun dipped in and out of the clouds.
After rounding the point and witnessing the dead sea turtle, I returned to the north point and sat on the beach looking out to the sea. I took my shoes off and scrunched my toes in the cool sand. I stopped for awhile to just listen to the surf and witness God’s love for variety. I saw at least five different kinds of birds, myriads of shells, windblown patterns in the sand, vines scrolling across the sand, seagrass washed up on the shore, and sea oats blowing on the dunes.
And God saved the best gift of this day for the return hike. As planned, I started choosing shells for my collection. Head down and bag in hand, I picked up oblong shells, spiral shells and patterned shells. About halfway back, a lady stopped me. She asked if I was collecting shells. I answered yes. She offered me some shells that she had collected. She told me their names, a shark’s eye, a sailor’s ear, and a very delicate angel’s wing. She told me about the rock in her hand. It had some kind of precious stone embedded in it. She gave it to me. I was so stunned and thankful. I knew some of the shells, but hadn’t known to search for them. I was collecting yankee shells. She was an expert.
After she went on her way, I was thrilled because I found a shark’s eye and some other small scallop shells that she had taught me to look for. On her return trip, she approached me again. I had overlooked a sand dollar, which she picked up to give me. She explained that the holes were the scars of Jesus’ crucifixion and that each side looked like flowers; one, a lily and the other, a poinsetta. I gladly accepted her gift. She told me that she had been here for five months, and taught herself all about the shells. I was her eager student.
Then she surprised me by offering me more of her precious finds. A funky ridged shell, a tiger’s paw and a Texas fossil. A heart shaped stone that was a fossilized clam. I was so amazed that she honored me with these gifts from the sea. We conversed some more as she briskly walked back to meet her husband. She had played tennis that morning, was shelling and hiking the beach now and was off to some other activity that afternoon. My shell mentor, was my senior in age and in wisdom. In her German accent, she told me that “You have to listen to learn.” I agreed.
It was a day to remember. I can plan many things, but God determines my steps. I am so glad I had read Jesus Calling this morning or I might have resented these sojourners who “interuppted” my hike with God.
The entry today said: “As you make plans for the day, remember that it is I who orchestrate the events of your life.”
Indeed! God continues to lead this awesome ADVENTURE!
Photos from the hike: