We arrived in Portugal in the early afternoon on Sunday. I was so apprehensive about coming for two months, leaving my home and family, especially our children and grandchildren. I kept thinking about what if there is a problem and we are so far from home? This trip is really a compromise between Douglas and me, as he wanted to pack up and move to Portugal, but I talked him down to two months to check it out and see if it is right for both of us.
As much as I love traveling, being available for my children means everything to me, so, I have never stayed away this long. I was so nervous on arrival, and I wondered if I could actually follow through and stay that long. Of course, Douglas is as happy as he can be, and I will probably have to drag him screaming to the airport when it is over, steadily reassuring him that he will come back some day, but maybe not to stay.
But, this morning, I stepped out on the balcony of the apartment we are renting and saw the early morning light on the ocean. The radiant light shimmered on the face of the ocean, and it looked as though God had sprinkled diamonds by the baskets full across the water. I just stared at the amazing loveliness in front of my eyes, and I thought, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.” I bowed my head in humble adoration and gratitude to the Creator of both the magnificence of the ocean and the wonderful other human beings sharing this lovely place with us. I could have stayed there all day on the balcony, just looking at the ocean.
There is something about the ocean that speaks to my soul. It fills me with such a life-affirming joy, and it makes me feel so appreciative to be alive. As I watched a small boat skip across the vastness of the water, I thought about how small we humans are in comparison to that massive body of water. I was so drawn to get dressed for the day and go to sit as close as possible to the ocean, to marvel at this amazing creation.
We are about a 10-minutes walk from the beach. It is a little chillier than I expected, and I did not bring anything warmer than a hoodie. Just as we arrived on the boardwalk, the rain came, and even getting soaked to the bone did not stop us standing and admiring the incomparable beauty of the ocean, sand, magnificent cliffs, and stunningly beautiful plants and trees growing right out of the rocks! Eventually, Douglas told me that we had to go back to the apartment and dry out. I left reluctantly.
We went to the large mall here in Portimao, and it had everything but a cover over the mall, which is not good when it rains, let me tell you. The parking is all underground, which helps some. Thankfully, I am not a shopper, and, yes, I have had my femininity questioned over that very fact, so we bought what we needed, had lunch, and headed back to the apartment. We did not sit down for a good thirty minutes, before I said, “Let’s go back to see the ocean.”
Here, there is a boardwalk that goes on for miles, and there are some very sturdy souls playing volleyball on the beach, with some people in bathing suits laying out to catch the sun, but it is so cold that I had my hoodie on and fastened to the hilt. The water must be freezing, but I guess some people want to get their money’s worth, come what may. I marveled at the smallness of the people against the ocean. We walked for well over three hours today, and I just kept my eyes on the water, while Douglas checked out the cheapest eating places.
I will tell you that earlier today I told him that I did not believe that I could stay here for two months, but that was just tired-to-the-bone-and-cold talk. I prayed and asked God to help me learn to take this trip one day at a time instead of in its entirety, to forget about what might happen, and concentrate on and savor each moment here. I want to be present so that I can enjoy every second of the visits to different cities in Portugal and Spain, going to museums and to ancient ruins, and examining walls and buildings that have been standing for centuries.
Also, the thought of missing seeing the ocean for even a few hours suggests that I am hooked and it may take some persuading to get me to leave as well. It is early days, and I have yet to have a fresh fish dinner, for I am traveling with the most frugal man in the world. Today, he went to the store for soup fixings, planning to make big pots of soup that will last us for a week each.
But, I will compromise with him again. We will eat soup some days, and we will eat out some days, especially places with great fresh fish. I will not come this close to the ocean and only eat lentil soup! It ain’t happening! I will agree to pay for the meals when we eat out, which should take the sting out of the check for him.
I believe that the oceans for me represents the reality of God, for human beings cannot reproduce them or the haunting sweetness and peace that they brings to our minds, hearts, and spirits. In Job 38:8-11, God asks,”Who kept the sea in its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'”
Today, I marveled that the waves only came so far, and then they started to retreat. Only God can orchestrate such a symphony that touches all of our senses, as the music of the waves and the smell of the ocean mingles with the sun and the moon to delight our eyes and ears, the sea mist kisses our skin, and the smell of salt lingers in the air, tickling our noses and mouths.
The oceans speak of God’s creative artistry, the majesty that God alone can do. How anyone can look on the ocean and think of all of the life under it and not consider the reality of God absolutely blows my mind. It is His mighty presence that I feel when I think that even with as much ocean as I can see, I could never see it all, because the depth, breadth, width, and length of it is too great for human minds to behold. I stand in awe of God my Father in Heaven, thanking Him for all the ocean provides us, including food (Yes, I am serious about eating some fish!).
In the New Testament, we read that Jesus spoke and the waves and the wind obeyed Him, and once He walked on water, fully in control of the elements, mainly because He was there with God when the oceans were called forth. As I adjust to being away from home for such a long time, trying to overcome my fears and apprehensions, while, at the same time, trying to enjoy this amazing opportunity that few people get to have, I must model the apostle Peter in Mathew 14:22-33.
Like Peter before me, I must learn to walk on water, stepping out in faith and focusing on Jesus Christ my Savior, not concentrating on the world around me, knowing that He is with us but also with our families. He will take care of all of us. So, I can’t wait for morning to come when the ocean, in all of its radiant beauty and light, and I can once again commune with each other and with our God who created us both marvelously and wonderfully.