A great good morning to all my friends and neighbors in Internet Land! And to family members who have dropped by, help yourself to some pinto beans. I’m having mine over Ritz crackers, but there is brown rice as well.
This is the story of Todd, Hannah, and Beach Access #01. It takes place in Jacksonville, Florida, a lovely city, with just a few drivers intent on vehicular mayhem; none of them feature in this story.
My gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, and I were in Jacksonville this past weekend to say good-bye to our dear Jan Patterson-McIvor, my step-mom, who had crossed over earlier this month.
It was a very positive, albeit sometimes weepy, weekend.
Sunday morning, Vanessa and I checked out of the hotel, emerging into wind-driven rain and 50 degree temps. Still, we wanted to visit the beach.
I had promised Alicia Ann that if we DID go to the beach, I’d bring her some back. Besides that, an ocean beach can be impressive in rotten weather.
Waze directed us to Beach Access #01, just a few miles from the hotel. Not being made out of sugar, we stepped bravely into the drizzling wind, made our way across the wooden bridge, and followed the short path to the water, where I scooped up a small bottle of sand and ocean for Alicia. Both of us took pictures with our phones, and I took a couple of short videos.
The wind was behind us, as we strolled down the beach to the nearest lifeguard post, but when we turned around to head back, WHAM!!! Driven sand, cold rain, fierce cold breeze, BRRRR.
Vanessa had her hoodie up, but the sand-filled wind was still chewing on her. I don’t mind the cold so much, so I took off my jacket, and tried to wrap her up in it. I think that was when it happened:
Her phone fell out of her pocket.
Of course, we didn’t realize it until we were back at the car. We chatted for a bit:
No, you stay here, I’ll go find it.
The ringer is off, you say?
No problem, your phone is pink.
On my way back out to the beach, I greeted the Beach Stranger, a tall & handsome younger-ish man (a tiny bit of gray in his well-groomed beard) who was wearing some sort of ocean-guy suit, covering torso and shorts. (I’m sure it has a name.) We exchanged howdy, and that was it, until I fell down on the stairs to the bridge. Then, I had to assure him that I was okay, just old and clumsy, and thanked him for his concern and encouragement.
I could find nothing, but I could pray:
“Lord, help me find Vanessa’s phone. Please don’t let this sour her memory of the weekend. Please, Father, let me find her phone.”(By the way, you CAN pray with cold rain and sand being driven into your beard.)
He laughed at that, and told me he wasn’t concerned about money, that he was doing well. He said he was out here to go for a swim, but he seemed happy to help.
I showed him where we had walked, to the lifeguard chair, and how I had tried to repeat our path, but found nothing. He pointed out that the tide was coming in. I realize now that if I was basing my search on distance from the ocean, I could be off by several feet.
I turned back, just in time to see him bend over and pick something up, and wave at me.
You know what it was.
At age 27, I would have run toward him. At 67, I just trudged. When I got to him, he was still wiping the sand off Vanessa’s phone, and it was still working.
We headed back to Beach Access #01. I said
“I know money isn’t important to you, but would it make you mad if I prayed to the Most High God, to give thanks for you, and for finding that which was lost?”
He looked at me strangely. Oh, so very strangely. It was one of those moments that stretches out, and then he said:
“That’s what I was going to ask you to do. I’ve just lost the love of my life. I believe she is my soul mate, but she is younger than I am, and she wants to learn more about life before settling down.”
He said a few more things, but they were private, between the two of us. And I said a few more things to him, mostly a bit of my own story, and broken hearts healed; also private, between the two of us.
He told me his name was Todd, and her name was Hannah.
We had arrived back at Beach Access #01, and we walked over to the Suburban, where my Sweet One waited.
The mighty prayers my wife can pray! She prayed for blessings, and healing of the heart, and comfort, and reconciliation, and God’s purposes made evident, and the desires of the heart fulfilled, and thanksgiving for this stranger who had helped us without thought for himself. And she prayed that Hannah would find what she was looking for.
We do not know all of the things that Todd the Beach Stranger brought to his meeting with the Redneck Biker and the Church Lady. We know almost nothing about Hannah.
But we do know our Father, and we know about Divine Appointments.
Peace be on your household.