Many of you are aware that for over a year the plans for a Date with God had been forming. August 30-September 6, Cannon Beach, OR. This was a trek of a group of 12 women across the country to carve out a week to spend with our Lord. People have tried to call it a seminar, a vacation, a woman’s retreat, etc. My answer would be no, or maybe yes, or probably not. Hard to put your finger on it. And as one of the participants said on our last night before returning home, it is hard to describe to someone that didn’t participate. But for a year, I’ve been trying. Trying to describe to the ladies going what the goal is. Trying to prepare their hearts and their focus… I will try to share briefly:
To unplug from the demands of life, from the cries of a schedule, from the pull of distractions to just sit and hear the quiet and listen for the voice of God…that still small voice. As many of you know, I have taken this trek alone multiple times before. I will say it is a very different experience with a group. Different, not worse. But it was a little harder to hear the quiet, to be still, to unplug completely from any schedule, etc. But knowing those things could not be eliminated as much this time, the blessings of the group presented themselves. First we see the power and majesty of God in the creation that lays before in vastness and minute detail. But soon, He also became evident in the hearts and lilting laughs of His daughters. The bonding and sharing of hearts was a fitting replacement for the lack of alone time. This trip was about fellowship. Although we had private moments, our bonding with one another…a group that was not that acquainted with one another before departure for the most part…was watching God himself at work.
Of course there were surprises to us but there were no surprises to God. He had planned this Date (and the weather) for some time before our arrival. These weeks to follow we will still be unraveling what His purpose was for each of us. The stories of this trip live in the hearts of the participants. I can only share my own journey…but it is still unfolding…so just share one bit.
One of the big surprises for me was my trip to the ER. Not planned at all! But being put on crutches as soon as I approached Cannon Beach was quite the blow. I was blessed with a rapid recovery…enough to shed my crutches and not require a “babysitter” for most of the trip. I had to let go of some places I wished to trek, but tried to not dwell on the losses, and focus on the blessings. I felt the time without crutches was a gift, as the day before leaving for home, the need for them returned. Still sorting this out. But then I realized. I come here alone other times. What would have been of me if I had no companions when this happened? (The list can go on, but that is the big one!)
Now, the prequel… my traveling group of four went out four days early to travel a bit. We first headed down to northern California to see the redwoods, and then headed up highway 101. What a beautiful drive. I did it one other time ten years ago. That was the time that Annette and I ended up on a beach under a working lighthouse for the night (when there was no room in ANY inn). This time we had a reservation to stay in the bed and breakfast on the cliff near the lighthouse. This was an awesome treat. Heceta Head Lighthouse is a beautiful lighthouse nestled in the cliff. Down a path from it is the B&B.
The Lighthouse keeper encouraged us to experience something that maybe one in 100,000 or one in a million have ever done. To go up to the lighthouse when it was dark, lean our backs against the lighthouse, and look up…to witness the rotating beams of the lighthouse with the stars shining between them. I was drawn!
With sunset nearing, we hurried up the path to the lighthouse. We witnessed the sunset, not a greatly spectacular one, but pretty. We stuck around for a while, but the cold winds were taking their toll.
We descended the path, returning to the B&B. I knew I would soon return to see the stars after warming up and after it got darker, but as soon as I sat on the porch wrapped in a blanket, I noticed a very visible fog rolling in! I was disappointed. Not an opportunity I plan to ever have again! So I decided to set my alarm for an hour before sunrise. Then I could see if the fog had lifted and ascend the path to see the stars amongst the beams.
Nestled in the Mariner’s room with a pristine view I was sleeping peacefully, then suddenly was jolted awake at 2:27am! I looked around my quiet room, then looked out the window and saw that now the beams from the lighthouse were clearly tracking across the basalt cliffs. The fog had lifted! (Who woke me, you wonder?…my Date.)
I quietly put on my clothes, got the provided flashlight, and slipped out the creaking doors of my antique room and then out of the B&B. I anxiously made my way up the path to find solitude and beauty as I leaned by back against the Heceta Head Lighthouse. I looked up and watched the beams…then saw the stars. Soon I thought I was seeing a meteor shower, but after patience and time realized it was a flock of birds flying through the beams of the lighthouse! It was absolutely beautiful.
Trying to catch the beauty with a camera was nearly impossible. I tried over and over. The beams tracked over 20 miles out into the ocean, then behind the lighthouse, it shown closely on the ascending cliff. I looked down at the beach framed by more basalt cliffs, and watched the light track across them too (as I had earlier seen from my bed upon awakening).
For me, this was the absolute highlight of my trip…at least the alone-ness part of my trip. I proceeded up another path that led to where I was level with the lighthouse beam, an unusually opportunity.
After descending that path, I read the sign that told me what to do if I encountered a bear. (!)
I then descended the lighthouse path, got in the car, and drove down to the beach to experience it from that perspective too…as I had ten years previous. I have told you the mechanics of this experience, but I can’t begin to explain what my heart embraced. This was not only an experience for the moment (as it also was!) but I can return there in my heart any time I can find the quiet and the dark and some chilled night air.
Later in my trip, I had to be thankful that the pop in the back of my left knee did not occur earlier in my trip…especially half way up the path to the beams.
My Date likes romantic walks on the beach, or early morning beam watching. He wants that sort of intimacy with me. He’s in this for relationship. And so am I. It’s only sad when I forget that part.
(This is the view from my room. Although pictures can’t do this lighthouse experience justice, I had to include the ones I had. But there is nothing like 3D and in person!)