Kneeling next to me is a father and his two sons, one son looks about four years old and the other seven. They’re both wearing UV protected swimwear and hats. Any exposed skin has been generously coated with hand-streaked layers of creamy sunscreen. The three of them sit close together in the wet sand building a castle.
Twenty yards down from us I see a brown-skinned little boy playing in the ocean. He enthusiastically boogie boards, swims and snorkels all by himself. He’s only five. I know, because I asked his dad who sits a distance away in the shade behind me. The beach is obviously this little guy’s playground. I watch him maneuver between tourists oblivious to their inquisitive stares. One after another slow down to admire his skill – and most give a quick scan of the area to see who’s supervising him.
Meanwhile, the castle takes shape. Dad and the older boy commiserate about the architectural design while the younger one fiddles with a bucket next to them. Dad slides a shovel over and begins helping him fill the bucket.
I watch the wheels turn on each of the three boy’s faces. I observe play and relationships.
I think about fathers.
Is one father a little too neglectful and obtuse or is the other too over-protective and controlling?
I realize I’ve found myself accusing God of the same things. Sometimes he seems distant and removed – leaving us to fend for ourselves in the angry sea of life, silent. Other times he seems restrictive and narrow – controlling. His rules suffocate creativity and strangle our individuality.
Perhaps the better observation might be – one father clearly trusts all he has taught his self-directed young son and gives him freedom to build on what he’s learned, even freedom to make mistakes. The other father understands the value of intimacy and is intuitively aware of each son’s unique personality and development.
Thunderous waves effortlessly roll in and out from the shore.
The sun teases me with it’s stationary appearance on the distant horizon.
Our Father watches and whispers affirmation. He releases us to play on his beach.
“That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being, as even some of your own poets have said, we are indeed his children” Acts 17:27-28