We took a family trip “down the shore” recently (excuse me, my Joisey is showing), which was so much fun.  While I was down there, I had one of those moments. 

 You know how, in life, you go along feeling kind of like you’re the only one who thinks the way you do, or who does a certain thing?  And then the Universe pulls back the curtain and lets you see that – SURPRISE! – lots of people think and act the way you do?

 One day at the beach, there were just heaps and piles of seashells along the tide line.  My kids are obsessed with collecting shells, and I bring plastic shopping bags (old ones that I’ve saved, since I am now green and eco-friendly with my reusable shopping bags!) for them to collect shells in.  But the thing is, as I accompany them on their little treasure hunts, despite all my efforts at self-discipline, there’s always a shell with a beautiful spiral or a gorgeous color that I just have to pick up.

 This day, I was surprised to see how many other adults were along the water’s edge hunting for shells.  And not just adult women, as you might have expected, but adults of the male persuasion, there with their plastic shopping bags, collecting sea shells by the seashore.  It gave me a smile, it did.

 And then something even more awesome happened.

 Toward the end of the trip, I was lucky enough to wake up pre-sunrise.  I know, I know, it’s vacation and you’re supposed to sleep in, but you know how hard it can be to sleep well in a strange place.  Besides, I’d had my heart set on seeing at least one sunrise at the beach.  So I flung myself out of bed and my husband – who had been sleeping late every day – said, “What are you doing?”

 “I’m going to see the sunrise,” I said as I hastily pulled on clothes.

 He rolled out of bed and said, “I’ll come with you.”

 Minutes later we were out the door and down at the beach, and to our surprise, we weren’t alone.  There were people all up and down the beach standing in the sand in pairs and small groups and watching the sky to the east.  They were totally quiet, and there was something reverential about the moment.


 It put me in mind of years past, when we’d gone to the bay to watch the sunset, and how people gathered for that, too, in small groups with their cameras, as if it were an event or a celebration.

Something about being together on the beach with all these strangers here for the same purpose touched my heart.  It reminded me that in spite of our alleged differences, there are many more similarities, if we just stopped long enough to look.

 And there was something about the moment that felt almost primal, as if we were all harkening back to our ancestral selves and worshiping the sun as a mighty god ascending in the morning sky. 

 Watching the sunrise that morning at the edge of the world, it’s easy to see how that could happen.  It was beautiful:  all moody purples and deep pinks and salmons.  I wondered if perhaps the sun were already up, but behind some clouds.

“I don’t think so,” my husband said softly, and in a moment, he was proven right, as the top edge of the fiery red sphere surfaced in a blaze of glory from the ocean on the horizon.  It was truly breathtaking.

We watched the sun until it was well in the sky, and it was magnificent and worthy of worship. 

My husband shocked me yet again by telling me that this was the first sunrise he’d ever seen.  I was happy to have been the one he shared his first experience with, and there was no better place to see it than there where sea meets sky in a flat line that makes it easy to understand why once upon a time, mankind thought the world was flat.

That day, I felt so much a part of everything:  connected to the earth, the sea and the sky, connected to my fellow man, who sought out beauty with the same passion as I do.  I carry that feeling with me still, and any time I forget it, I look at my photos from that morning, when the sun rose in its resplendence and was worshiped by strangers on a beach.