Monday, August 22, 2011

The Day of Small Things

The little boy had been standing near, silently watching me as I labored in the sand. The sand dog was slowly taking form, more slowly than our usual family sculptures since certain unnamed members of the family were relaxing at the beach, rather than helping.

It was ok. The sand sculptures are my beach activity. I love being at the ocean, but not of the ocean. There are too many biting, stinging, sliming, and frightening creatures in the ocean to make swimming a relaxing experience for me. It would not be a vacation would be more like paramilitary training camp.

So I was making my sand sculpture, happily safe from the sharks, jellyfish, blowfish, sea urchins, and genetically altered poisonous sponges. The little boy had wandered over and not even said Hi. He just watched me with big brown eyes. It became clear if there was to be any interaction, I would have to initiate it.
"Hi, do you like to build sand things?"
He nodded.
"Can tell what this is?"
"A dog."
More silence. As I patted the sand carefully on the dog's head, he followed me and leaned in, watching me with a serious scowl. I moved to the front paw, and he moved with me. As I crouched near, he crouched near, behind me, peering under my arm as the sand dog took shape.
"Do you want to build a sand creature?"
"It looks hard," he said.
"It's not. I'll teach you. Come over here."
We walked a few feet from my dog."
"Ok, first what do you want to build? Choose something simple, like a clam shell."
He looked at me, his face blank.
"How about a crab? They're pretty easy."
He nodded.
"Ok, first you draw an outline on the sand."
I used my sand shovel and drew the outline of a crab. He watched with furowed brow, and nodded.
I wondered where the child's mother was, and why she was letting him talk with a stranger.
"Then you dig a trench outside the outline like this and pile the sand on the shape. Later you will patt that sand smooth and in shape like you saw me do with the dog. Do you have a sand shovel?"
He nodded, looking at the crab.
I went back to work on my dog and he stood still. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his mother appear with two shovels.
"Would you like me to help you build an animal?"she asked.
He nodded smiling and they hurried over to their own space of sand several yards away.

I'd been reading with Asherel about missionaries who had gone to Africa risking their lives and heads bringing the gospel to cannibals. I have never felt called to leave my own country. But I do pray every time I leave the house that God would open my eyes to the world of suffering, loneliness, and need around me and that perhaps, I could be a blessing to someone.

It seems that God has not gifted me with an ability to do large things, to do great things. But He has taught me never to despise the day of small things.

I carved the name of my book in the sand by my sculpture and wrote also, "available at" in careful sand script. You just never know what might be used of God, I thought, glancing at the mother and boy busily building a creature in the sand together.

Zechariah 4:10 NIV

"Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?"
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