every day this week the waves have crept stealthily close to the front lines of families sitting unawares underneath umbrellas, hoping to catch amateur-beachers by surprise and wipe out their colorful and sadly unfortified establishments.
seasoned families including our little tribe pile all of our belongings onto chairs and strollers, and build trenches in front engineered with foolproof hydraulic drainage to protect them from the incoming tide. Sure enough, soon that one ambitious wave scales the sand embankment which separates the sunbathers from the surfers with a sound like thunder and comes storming down the other side, bringing towels and umbrellas and beach chairs and small children and shovels and food and Bluetooth speakers and sunscreen bottles with it.
we rush to help gather up these poor unfortunates’ things and move their camps farther back out of reach of the waves while laughing together at the mixup of everything from diapers to lip gloss.
and sure enough, the next day, those same families are out bright and early with brand-new shovels, building walls and moats as skillfully as the beach-goers of decades’ experience.
this recurring incident brings to mind another of several winters ago, when a massive snowstorm swept our suburban vicinity and trapped families in their houses for over two days. every single commercial snow plow in the area, excepting a pathetic two, responded by breaking down. thus only major roads were cleared, and smaller neighborhoods and streets were left last priority.
our cul-de-sac falling into that unfortunate category, we impatiently waited another day to see if the plows would come and clear us out.
finally, desperately, the whole street came together and decided they had had enough of this. men needed to get to work. women needed to get to the grocery store. so the entire masculine population of Eastlake Court trudged out of their houses and through the snow of their front lawns, burdened with shovels and personal snowblowers and anything else they could find to help.
they began at the bottom of the cul-de-sac and slowly worked their way up the entire street, leaving giant drifts by the side of the road, but clearing a path sufficiently wide so that cars could drive through again.
towards the end of the day our own men returned, glowing pink-cheeked from exercise and full of pride at their achievement over Mother Nature.
but also from the bonding they had experienced with their neighbors, all united in a common goal. the laughter and joking that had taken place when they came together, the stories they shared of their own struggles during this county-wide catastrophe.
even the children back home felt this bond, knowing they were all in it together, and feeling proud of the feat they had accomplished when they put their minds to it.
i felt this sense of unity in both the beach and the snow storm incidents, when we had to let down the barriers of our own personal life, and leave the walls of our houses (or umbrellas) behind in order to help out our neighbors in distress.
i find it interesting that the only time I’ve ever experienced this was through some kind of catastrophe, whether it’s just a few soaked towels and scattered belongings or being trapped in your home for days.
this sense of neighborly unity is something warm, glowing; it brings a smile and laugh to your face, and allows your natural human compassion to rule your heart for a few minutes, or hours – as it happens to be.
there’s more than just neighborly unity binding humanity together, however, and writing this post brought to mind other types of unity in my life.
unity of blood: your family. there’s nothing like knowing that no matter where you are, what you’ve done, how you live, there are humans out there with the same blood running through their own veins and who loves you more than anything. who will always have your back.
unity of interest: take music; twenty one pilots, for example. whenever I see someone on Pinterest with a username ending in “||-//”, I know we have something in common. finding out that someone you know is a part of the clique is a beautiful feeling, because you suddenly have a deeper empathy and relationship with them. going to a concert is the epitome of that, when you’re in the same room with thousands of people who feel the same connection with the music that you feel. it’s incredible.
unity of faith: having the same standards and morals, and trusting someone to uphold the same conduct that you uphold yourself is an amazing unity. just by the simple words “oh I’m Christian too!” there is an unspoken knowledge that you profess the same creed, live by the same gospel, and worship the same God. it forges the closest kind of community there is in today’s world, which spans not only neighborhoods and towns but the entire globe.
the most beautiful unity that exists, however, is something that I often lose sight of. that most of the world completely loses sight of, proven by the many evils that prevail in society today.
the unity that every single one of us is created by God and that God wants every single one of us in Heaven with him.
imagine if, every stranger you saw, every new person you met and instantly disliked, every new child who enters the world… imagine if every time you saw a fellow human being, suffering or joyful, Christian or atheist, sinner or saint – you said to yourself, “God loves this person more than his entire earthly creation, and wants him in Heaven with Him just as much as He wants me.”
the dignity and respect in which you hold that person escalates through the ceiling.
suddenly you see how precious, how beloved, how stunning that person; the height of God’s creation and the object of His love; really is.
it will change your life.
that person who said the nasty thing the other day? that girl who made snide remarks on your outfit? the guy you met who you just have an unfounded repulsive feeling about?
set all of your human instincts and emotions aside for a minute, and see that person for who they are in God’s eyes. treat them with the respect this divine dignity requires.
it will change your life.