There’s always a day during our beach vacation when the waves are high, tossing about those who dare to step inside the ocean. It’s a glorious time, and a frightening one, because it reminds us how fragile life is, how strong and penetrating nature.

We must respect the ocean.

Its depths, its intent, its rhythmic flow in and out and in again. The way it contains itself, rises up, then calms. The way the ocean is so much greater in so many ways than we are.

The minute we dare to imagine that we can control it is the minute we lose everything.

For the truth is, we have no control over anything. We think we do. That illusion rides us high into the clouds, where we perch among satisfaction and content, never thinking it can toss us up and catch us back down again in a heartbeat.

My eldest son was brave among the waves this year. Every year older, they venture further out and stay in the surf longer each day. Asher was a sight to behold. Tossed up and spun around, smiling, laughing, loving it.

He played the waves on Thursday all day long, his face beaming from the brightness of the sun reflected off the diamond waves and shimmering sand. White caps rolled in and around, waves crisscrossing themselves, and still he dove in, rebounded out, dove in yet again.

My little guy Shaya stayed far away. He’s still at the age when the ocean is scary, and playing in the sand seems a safer bet. My heart rested a bit easier knowing he was trusting his instincts, not ready yet to brave the waves.

My daughter, Eliana, loved the ocean this year. She tossed about, to and fro, every single day and when I had to beckon her inside for day’s end and some much-needed rest, she resisted, wanting instead to trust the gait and throw of the tide, be one with it, taste the salt on the air.

I love being at the ocean. It’s enough for me to sit on the porch in a wooden rocker and read all day, the salt-tipped breeze encircling me. I, too, love traipsing down to the sandiest point where my toes dig into the beach and the surf licks at my feet.

I also love to toss about in the waves – but not too high. Calmer waters make my heart sing, for I know the tumult and anger of the ocean. It is something to behold, and something to respect.

It will live on longer than I, than all of us.

When we forget how small we really are, and that our time on earth is fleeting, we lose sight of what matters. This life is a journey, and a quick one. A journey in which we are to find our unique gift and talent and offer them up to the world, to the universe, to God, knowing that it’s what we were brought here to do.

To live in the paths of those who came before us, and those who will come after, in humility, in service, in goodness and in kindness.

I could stare at the ocean all day, every day. I could listen to the slapping surf every single night through an open window, lulled to sleep by the reverence of it and for it, knowing I am but a speck, like the many pinpoint stars in the night sky I stared at every single night of this last week, sitting on cold sand, watching my children play flashlight tag on a black blanket of night.

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