I thought I’d sleep more here, in this tiny haven. I have no responsibilities other than myself. But no.
So I drank coffee on the balcony as the sun rose, and watched tiny bugs struggle through two layers of protective screening surrounding me (note to self: buy large quantities of DEET). I read my devotionals — today’s themes were about trusting God, knowing God will give relief to the troubled (2 Thessalonians 1:7) and being still…and resting (Psalm 46:10).
Went walking on the beach around 8am, which was probably wise, given my skin tone (fishbelly). And in my perambulations, I stepped on millions of shells but kept only one fragile, iridescent little moon (in my pocket, broken now); I watched pelicans and an osprey catching fish; and I videotaped a lone dolphin chasing a school of something just a couple dozen feet from where I stood on the shore.
I had to turn in my 24 hour rental car today, exchanging it for a 7 speed bike with a basket – my only source of transportation besides my feet for the next 13 days. So, at about 10:15, I decided to take a drive and see what I could of this little island chain – while not having to pedal it.
I headed north, to get to the very end of Captiva, which lies just north of Sanibel. One of the things I’ve always noticed about Florida is how it FEELS like it takes FOREVER to drive anywhere because it’s so flat. Add a 25-35 mph speed limit and lots of sunburned people on bicycles; it took what felt like an eternity (whine) to drive to what turned out to be ALMOST the end. The end is apparently the property of some fancy-schmancy resort.
I swung around and as I started to drive south again, I was horrified to realize I had to pee (which, for middle-aged women, is an urgent matter). Earlier I’d passed a sign for a library and “chapel by the sea;” I saw the sign again and took a sharp right, landing moments later in a parking lot. The library was closed; perhaps the church? I glanced down – well, bike shorts and a workout tank would have to do, because…as I walked closer, I realized I was not just going to use the facilities – I was going to stay for the service. My wandering had brought me here.
So under a Mark-blue sky, in the shade of a porch, with a gentle breeze blowing in from the sea just to our left, we came before God together. The chapel is so small that this outdoor, overflow seating is necessary. Occasionally, the minister would stick his head or his hand out the furthest window in order to address us directly. It was charming. Some people had their dogs. And we took communion, and sang hymns that were familiar.
As I drove back to Sanibel, I was awestruck by the view to my right – the sand and the sea. It was a narrow road, with visible signs saying NO PARKING, but there was no traffic. I pulled onto the shoulder as far as I could, hit the flashers, and jumped out to take a quick picture. Within seconds a police car materializes out of thin air, behind my rental, lights flashing. I dash back to my car, thinking “great start to your retreat! A traffic ticket!”
The crackle of the loudspeaker, “Everything OK ma’am? You all right?”
Oh my gosh. I wave my hand in the rearview mirror – thank you! yes, I’m ok! moving on! – and start the car, and I think about grace.