The conference center where we had our weekend retreat is about two blocks from the beach. To get there you have to cross a very busy major highway - THE highway along the coast. Highway 101. To walk across that highway would be very dangerous. I've never seen anything like it before but the conference center has a private overpass to the other side. A quaint-looking structure that brings safety and ease to the journey to the beach.Retreat friends who had been there before told me the stairs were 'a killer'. I was prepared for a steep climb but was surprised how easily I made it to the top.Not bad. Not bad at all. And the view of the lake beside the conference center was fantastic.
The doors into the overpass are locked, making it impossible for just anyone to have access. Conference registrants are given the code for entrance into this fascinating structure.A friend and I walked to the beach together. She loves to take pictures too and we understood each other's insight into the beauty of the surroundings. Our cameras were busy - we stopped often to take pictures. During the morning session in the chapel our speaker had talked about looking at life 'through the grid'. We don't see it as God sees it! We see it through the grid of our understanding, our experiences, our background. As we walked into the overpass my friend looked at the windows and exclaimed, 'Through the grid!' It gave meaning to the phrase. It was an appropriate illustration. At the end of this long covered bridge high above the highway there was our first view of the ocean. Breathtaking. Always. On our way past ocean-front homes to the pathway that led down onto the beach we passed a delightful display. A yard ornament. Garden art. A rowboat filled with tulips! How clever. If I had a home at the beach I would love to do the same. A conference friend had told us that the winter storms had left many logs on the beach. More than usual. An incredible sight. As we approached the beach we knew she was right. Just beyond the logs we could see the sandy beach. And the rocks. Twin Rocks.We had to get to the other side of the logs to get to the beach. As we approached we met a friend who was returning to the conference center. She told us of a better path to take than the obvious one straight ahead. Now that's a friend. A real friend. Finally - the beach. Sand. A leisurely walk. Conversation. Search for shells and driftwood pieces to take as a reminder of our day. Another friend who was walking on the beach joined us for more of the same.Down the beach a ways I spied a house. Made of driftwood and logs. High above the sand on top of an incredible pile of logs. My friend, Mrs. I, decided to climb up to look inside. Soon it was time to walk back to the conference center to get ready for dinner. A slow pace back the way we had come. Past a few homes. Talking and enjoying time together. When we saw this tree arched over a driveway we had to stop.Ahead, the overpass came into view high above the trees. A sign above the stairs on this side welcomed us and reminded us where we were headed.Inside the 'tunnel' once again we talked as we returned to the place in the woods near the beach. Our home away from home for a short time.A few more minutes and we had returned to another world. Life in the forest camp with other friends. We were refreshed and relaxed. Ready to move on to the scheduled events. 'Free' time was over. Just on the clock but not in our hearts. We had been free to take time with friends. Free to enjoy and savor the beauty of God's creation. And the beauty of our friendship. A respite in the middle of a busy world.