One of the joys of winter is being able to find a beach and have the whole place to yourself. The blissful solitude of such a walk is the perfect antidote to the busyness and hurry of the workplace.
I suppose some might call it "connecting with nature", but when for example walking on the above beach a couple of weeks ago, to me at least there was a strong sense of God's presence. It was like being absorbed into a work of art, the stunning low winter light, the breathtaking wind like the ruach of God's Spirit and the gentle, almost hypnotic sound of the waves all combining to bring peace and soothing to the soul. God's Creation, God's handiwork, I think He loves us to enjoy it, like a parent giving a gift to a child not because they have been good, but because they are loved...
I thought of the famous "Footprints poem" - having done a Google search for this, I was surprised to discover that there are three versions of it (though all pretty similar) and a rather poignant Leona Lewis song of the same name.
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.
This really bothered Him and He questioned the LORD about it. LORD you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.
The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
Carolyn Carty, 1963