” Let brotherly love continue. Stop neglecting to show hospitality to strangers, for by showing hospitality some have had angels as their guests without being aware of it.”Hebrews 13:2
In the midst of a masked pandemic, as summer was nearing its end, I ventured into the woods with my youngest and her ever adventurous cousin. We came to the forest because it had been calling to Hadley. She grew up lugging weight beyond her years onto a dirt path and squatting in the shadows of the ancient greens to play games and build forts and tell tales and talk truths. There is magic in the woods and sometimes I feel like she recalls it the best. And perhaps thats why, after a long lumbering summer of nothing much and plans foiled, she was the one that did not want it to come to an end without venturing this way at least once.
A mid-week, last minute trip didn’t allow for the hubs or any of the siblings to come along with us so when Hadley was asked who she might want to join us instead, Joshua was her natural choice. He feeds on adventure and comes with a boisterous spirit born to entertain. Everything is fantastical to him. His pack was too big and lopsided and his pants kept falling down. But, as we stepped out onto the sandy shores of the North Coast his jaw dropped and he did what we all should do as our eyes meet that place where land and ocean collide, he sat in unabashed awe. And as our short little trip progressed he never faltered. He was our magnifying glass and through his eyes everything was bigger and bolder and more distinct.
This rugged shore centered the three of us and left us walking out together, a little lighter and brighter and bolder than before. The beauty of the wild and the soothing salty air have a way of rejuvenating those who wander here but along the way we also crossed paths with a stranger who left a lasting impression upon us all as well. It was a small moment that cannot be defined by the words we shared, but rather the way this wanderer carried himself and how his bright eyes shone. And how he left us all aghast, with Josh magnifying the brilliance of the meeting in his grand and gallant way and Hadley honoring it. How amazing it is to cross paths and be moved by ones pure essence. An embodiment of goodness and grace. I long to entertain strangers like that, to be that kind of stranger. Maybe he was just a man. But, to us, he was angelic. Transcendent. True. And somehow otherworldly. He did not wear a mask or step aside to avoid the air that filtered out of us into the misty breeze. He was not concerned with the things of this world. He just wanted us to watch our step, so we didn’t sink deep into the muck that had washed up on shore. It was as simple and as beautiful as that.
Theres a lot of muck washing up on the shore these days. Sometimes the shortest route is to just trudge right through it. To call it unavoidable. And then moan and complain and ramble on in disgust as we sink deep into the slimy mess of it all. But, there is always a way around the muck. There is no need to sink deep. Brotherly love can continue through it all.
Maybe we all have a little bit of angel in us just waiting to be entertained. I need people in my life, like Hadley, who long for the truest forms of pleasure and urge me to venture there. And like Josh, who see things fresh and new and knows just how to augment whatever is before him, making it even more grand. And like that stranger, who reminded us that we leave impressions of our being wherever we travel, and that goodness and grace are the truest and purest kinds of imprints we can make in this world.
On the sandy shores of the North Coast I walked with God. Certainly He was in the soothing sand beneath our feet and the rolling waves upon the shore, the sun that set the skies ablaze and the salty breeze dancing with the trees. But, He also lingered in in the spirit of my little girl and in the sparkle of my nephews eyes and resonated in the spirit of a stranger clothed in white. I saw my God in everything.
Even in the muck – He is there. In all of us. In everything. I hope we don’t stop seeing the beauty in this life or the blessed bits of God hidden within it all, within us all.
I hope we can learn to choose a better way.
The Ozette Triangle is split up into three sections, and only one of them has ocean views. The triad journey begins and ends in the lush forest traipsing along boardwalks most of the way.
Josh was enamored with the crazy terrain and Hadley had to stop and admire every little creature we passed along the way.
None the less, we found our way back down to the easy breezey sandy shore .
The sun danced between the shadows of the trees, flitting down on us all afternoon while we played and laughed and lounged around.
There was some wrestling and antics and a stunt show or two.
And then, just like that, the day slipped away.
So, we sparked up a fire, boiled dinner and roasted mallows of sugar on the end of sticks.
These still moments surprised both me and Hadley and this time it was her that urged me to capture it. Like he was a rare creature that had been tamed by the retracting pulse of the tide.
And this is where our ‘stranger’ comes in.
From a distance he looked like an astronaut, clothed in white from his head to his toes, bouncing along a moonscape, light and airy like. As we got closer we realized he was just an older fellow clothed in the most unlikely hiking gear. A white brimmed hat sat upon his white chin length locks and he was sporting a white linen shirt and pants and what looked like white flyknit tennis shoes. He carried a sack like pack upon his back, like nothing I’ve ever seen, made of a brown burlap material and he walked along casually with a beautiful long drift of wood as his walking stick. I made the kids stop and wait for him to pass, in case he was like most people who passed us by and feared the germs that might be lingering in our precious breaths. But, instead of just quickly passing us, he stopped and greeted the three of us with a gentle, congenial smile.
He had just passed around the rocky bend we were hoping to warp through and before that, the piles of murky muck that we had sunk into the day before. He wanted us to know that it looked as if it was just your usual ocean gook washed ashore, but if we tried to tread right on through it, we would sink deep. He said it would be safer to hug to the rocky shore and go the long way around. As he spoke his eyes sparkled and there was tender sort of kindness that wafted off of him, seemingly flitting around in the air around him. It was just a cordial warning about the path ahead. But, somehow it seemed like more. Somehow he seemed like more.
We knew there was muck ahead. We had stepped in it before. But, perhaps it was a parable of sorts.
“Don’t walk through the muck of this world my friends. It’s deeper than it appears. There is a way around. Passing this way can be an adventure rather than a trudge if you choose. Chose the adventure instead.”
And then before we knew it, we were long past the matrimonial rocks and Cape Alava was sprawling out before us where we made an unanimous adventurous decision to boil our dinner for lunch and finish the triangle in one day, rather than two.
Until we came to the point at which it all began.
I left the forest thankful, as always. But it was a different kind of gratitude. this time. As we made our exodus I was grateful for more than just the wild and the truths I usually find there. I was thankful that these kids, growing up in a world strewn with muck up to their knees and rough and rocky shores stunting their grand plans, still believe in the mysterious and the magical, and choose to find wonderment in the strange, and seek out lofty refuges – transforming them into fin fortresses when some only see dark dank spaces full of garbage. I am thankful, not just that I get to walk this way, but I that I get to walk this way with them – and see the world through their eyes, magnified and magnificent.
May we all be angels, unaware – full of goodness and grace, helping each other avoid the muck and guiding each other along the way. May we see the God within us all and love each other gosh darn it. Even those whose ways and wears and words seem strange to us.
May we choose a better way.
Day 1 ~ Ozette Trainhead to Yellow Banks – 5 miles
Day 2 ~ Yellow Banks to Cape Alava and Out – 10 miles
Total Miles ~ 15
PS – I would not trade the experience of this trip for all the world, but when we venture this way again we will definitely head back down South to Third Beach or maybe Yellow Banks and beyond. I prefer sandy shores over rocky ones and so do the kids, so the Ozette Triangle (although pretty in its own mysterious and lapidarian sort of way) was not really our cup of tea:)