There’s an old Gospel song called Beulah Land. It is my daddy’s favorite song and one that I have heard and sung many times over the years. While I understand the first line, which says “I’m kind of homesick for a country that I’ve never been before”, I’ve never experienced it in a humanized kind of way as I do now. The mountains, save for a few years in my early twenties, have always been my home and though I have jokingly referred to moving to some sunny beach at some point in my life, that is all it has been, just talk. Just joking. Just thinking out loud. But now, the joke is on me. On the ride down from Southwest Virginia, I was looking forward to being back on the Gulf Coast and had, as the rest of the brood making the journey did, expectations of great fun and awesome beauty. What I didn’t expect was to feel the gut-churning excitement of coming home. Of seeing a place that I didn’t realize I had so greatly missed. Didn’t expect to want to dig my feet into the sands and my roots into the community and become a part of honest to goodness beach life. I didn’t expect to know, with certainty, that I would once again leave my family, friends and the home I know and love to go somewhere far away. But it is a real possibility, one I can see in the near future as opposed to the wavering places that live toward the end of my days. I can see myself sitting on the porch in the evening, a cup of coffee and my laptop, as the sun sinks behind the fathomless ocean and the sky above it turns to a brilliant orangy red with streaks of blue and darkening purple. I can envision the brilliant mornings with the sound of the rolling tide as I walk along the sandy beach, a trusty dog by my side and my Pentax around my neck. It no longer seems like just something I dream of, but something that I am going to have to do in order to fulfill what my life is about. Here on the Gulf, there seems to be no sense of time or place, but instead, even for those who work here, from what I’ve seen so far, a laid-back attitude that comes from knowing that no matter what kind of day one has had, it’s ok because the ocean is nearby to soak up all the bad and replenish the soul with the depths that only our Heavenly Father knows. I knew the moment I saw the farm where we live now, my parents in their big old farmhouse and me beside them in my little single-wide, that I had to live there. That it was a place where God’s presence was in the trees and the hills, the changing seasons and the wildflowers. I feel that same thing now, that feeling of urgency that there is somewhere else I need to be, but this time, it is one with changing tides, white sandy beaches, sea oats, ocean sunsets and warm, humid breezes. There is no way to say when I will be back, but one thing I know for certain is this… I will be back and then it will be to stay. When Jim, rest his soul, was living, we often spoke of living on the ocean and he wasn’t the least bit interested. Even then, there was a pull, but it had no power and it was something I could easily put in the back of my mind. Now, with Jim in Heaven and my only child in college, there is nothing, save for my own fear of change, to hold me back. There are many decisions to be made and heartstrings to be pulled, there are ties to be cut and tears to be dried, but in the end, I will go where God sends me to do what He wants me to do. Just as I know I will end up living on the Gulf somewhere, I know it is photography that will take me there. I have faith in an awesome God who doesn’t build up the dreams and wonders of His children only to look at them and say “Psyche!” Until that moment when I can load up my duffel bag and take only what I need to start a life that I was meant to live, I’ll wait and I’ll watch and I’ll be the best servant I can be. And once I’ve made the leap, I’ll wait and I’ll watch and I’ll be the best servant I can be, for God is faithful and He expects nothing less of His people.
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