I think it’s safe to say that most people enjoy the beach. What’s not to love about a vast body of water surrounded by white sandy beaches? But for Hope and Charlie, the beach is much more. It would be easy to label my two munchkins. The world considers both of them to be “severely” disabled, so perhaps the way they experience the beach is because they lack decorum and social sensibility. But maybe … just maybe … they’re onto something the rest of us are missing.
As soon as their toes hit the sand, for instance, their instinct is to drop into it. They both dig their arms down into the warm grains and lie on their bellies. They don’t worry about whether sand gets into their clothes, on their faces, or in their hair. They’re not concerned about what others on the beach might think of them. They just drop down and feel it. They experience it. Several years ago, I decided I’d allow myself the freedom to lie down with them and to do what they do, and I actually enjoy the way the warm sand feels on my body. We end up taking home as much sand as we leave behind, and while I spend months vacuuming it out of my car, it’s worth it.
When the kiddos finally make their way down to the ocean, both of them either lay their ears down on the sand or cover their ears with the cups of their hands. They’ve done this since they were babies. I’ve always known they’re listening to the ocean. Charlie even hums with it. He works until he finds just the right tone, and then he enters into his own little world and sticks with that tone for several minutes. He’ll take breaks, but then he goes back to find that same tone over and over again. I joke that he becomes one with the ocean, but I actually think there’s a level of truth to it.
Multiple times a day, I stop to consider how I’ve been given two children who can’t speak. The awareness is always with me. While having children who are completely dependent upon me is terrifying, it’s also the most awesome experience. It’s indescribable. I might fail at every other aspect of my life, but when it comes to Hope and Charlie, I will serve them with joy, gratitude, selflessness, and a heart filled with the most incredible love I’ve ever known. And while I’m at it, I will learn from them.
Because they can’t speak, they are much more in tune to things the rest of us miss. They take time to see, hear, and feel things the general population takes for granted. And in that amazing state of “special needs”, they experience God. All of nature is God’s tangible communication with us. While we can’t physically see him or touch him, we can physically connect with him through creation. Hope and Charlie get that. When Charlie cups his little hands over his ears and hums with the ocean, I believe he’s humming right along with God. And when Hopey lies down on her face in the sand, digging her arms deep under the sand, I believe she’s touching Him. An awareness and link is there.
There’s a song, “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. The lyrics are: “Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me. You have been so, so good to me.” God has been singing over Hope and Charlie since the day they were born. If given a choice between having words to speak or hearing the voice of God every second of every day, I believe they’d choose God’s voice. I know I would.
Is my life easy? Nooooooo. It’s challenging and exhausting. Being everything to two humans each day is tough. I’m always on. Always anticipating. There’s no break. I’m not in it alone, though. God has equipped me, and He’s rooting for me. In all of this, I’m His student, working to keep my mind open to grow. To not overlook the little things.
Next time you’re at the beach, dare to dig your arms deep into the sand and reach out to touch God — or cup your hands over your ears and listen for Him. He’s there. He’s that close.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One, who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”