Not all beach walks and clam chowder

For the most part, our seaside adventure has been a good one. You can’t beat the view. The beaches are beautiful. And the clam chowder is beyond.

Waking up every morning to the sound of sea birds and the smell of salt water is heavenly. This really is God’s country.

But buying a house on the ocean has with it a learning curve that is steep. Semi off-grid living is not for the faint of heart. We are just getting water back after a grim two days without.

On the back of losing Serena, this hit me hard.

Isn’t it strange, how we can roll with the big things and the little things can unseat us? Over the last couple of months, I’ve come to terms with my diminished vision, battled vertigo, and lost my beloved dog. I’ve run into the most abusive person I know at my church. This ocean-side experience was meant to be restorative after a time of trial. I was to be saved by salt water – a nod to the words in Mark and John – seeking out kindred spirits and a closer walk with God.

Instead, salt water ran through our taps, leaving us parched.

And what does one do with that?

I’ve been turning to Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way, in the wee small hours as comfort. And I landed on this beautiful passage that spoke so clearly to me:

I just know that—old scars can break open like fresh wounds and your unspoken broken can start to rip you wide open.


Trauma is the periwinkle shell I find in walks along the beach. Any break in the hard outside reveals the layers of hurt spiralling inward.

Voskamp’s entire book is about the act of breaking and the surprise gift it can be. A Farmer’s wife, she writes in metaphor:

The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast.

She explains,

For a seed to come fully into its own, it must become wholly undone. The shell must break open, its insides must come out, and everything must change. If you didn’t understand what life looks like, you might mistake it for complete destruction.

You might mistake it for complete destruction.

What looks like the end is really a beginning, much like that fridge magnet saying about the caterpillar and the butterfly.

The brokenness is a conduit for our salvation.

As Voskamp writes,

The life that yields the most—yields the most.

Maybe the water thing is a gift. Certainly, it’s brought me into real communion with people in town I might not otherwise have come to know. I had to miss a cocktail party, but instead got to chat with the water guy. We’ve had less time to sightsee, but instead I’ve come to know the lady at the hardware store.

I’m grateful for simple things. Like seeing our neighbour drive up with a tank full of clean water in the bed of his truck. And being able to wash the dishes by hand. (We are still puzzling over why a place with water restrictions had a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and a deep freestanding bathtub…)

I easily could have spent my month here drinking rosé and feasting on the rather excellent goat cheese: my old life lurks around every corner. Instead, we are living a new way of life with Purox buys and Walmart and the use of a laundromat that offers a wash, dry and fold service so that we are able to go into town and have lunch.

Maybe the path to healing lies not in doing nothing, but in doing something quite different. Maybe it lies with the realization that His ways are higher than our ways, and part of the plan is to crack us out of our cozy shells.

The life that yields the most—yields the most. 

It’s not entirely clear, and not at all desired, but I know that – somehow – the threat of ticks and the lack of water and the loss of our dog is every bit as necessary for us as the beach walks and clam chowder.

One comment

  1. I love that you are reading Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way. I read it through once, underlining and highlighting all the way. I then read through it more slowly, a few paragraphs at a time, so I could journal my thoughts. What a great writer and a great book. I love (maybe hate too) your last paragraph. The hard things of life are indeed necessary. We don't always understand the why but everything brings growth when we trust God and allow Him to use it to shape our lives to be more like Him.Hugs,Patti


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