Dedicated to the memory of Ann Babb
Imagine paradise; palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze, and soft, yellow sand that hugs a turquoise Caribbean ocean. Seagulls and hawks sail through the bright blue sky, and pelicans glide in perfect formation over the surface of the sea bending their flight path up and down in accordance to the waves. Translucent water reveals a colorful city of coral where fish and turtles dart beneath. Then add waves, peeling and careening to shore in a calculated rhythm. “And the spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:2 puts into words what my soul knows to be true. God gave me the gift of surfing, and in His creation is where I feel his presence the strongest. My God is a personal God, and He meets us where we are.
On Sunday night, my final night in Puerto Rico, this scene was my reality. A sunset surf session seemed the apropos way to end the trip. It was a miracle because for the past week it rained each evening. This evening was the first and last sunset I witnessed there. My final session in PR took place across the street from where we stayed, Pools beach. This wave was a punchy and fun reef break. It was hard to choose between studying the waves and surfing, or resting on my board and watching God paint the horizon in magnificent hues. I praised God for His glory, His amazing creation, and for allowing me to be part of this moment.
“Carry me on the tip of your surfboard,” my mom often said. I caught a wave, and as I paddled back out I had to duck-dive, scooping my board under the crystal water. Little pockets of air danced around the tip of my board as I continued to paddle and it stayed just beneath the surface. One bubble was my mom, one was my aunt Carol, the next my aunt Judy, and then I thought of her. Ann.
I duck-dived again and came to the surface to witness an overwhelming array of colors in the sky, framed by a glowing, burning orange sun. Ann. My soul felt free and joyful, and a fresh energy entered my body. In the next moments I caught a few waves with total ease. After riding one and paddling back out I saw the bubbles again and my heart felt Ann while my mind thought, Ann. Then, I looked at the sun, and it was at the point of sinking fast, fading from the sky. Should I be still and watch it fall away or should I look for another wave to ride? The decision pulsed towards me as I was in the prime spot to paddle into this little, clean wave. So I paddled twice and rode next to a small wall of water as the sun fell away.
I didn’t know at the time Ann had passed away early that morning. When I found out the next day, the first thing that came to my mind was the bubbles and thoughts of her during my sunset session, and I knew her spirit was with me.
A sunset is a tiny glimpse into God’s glory; a kiss of heaven. The warm glow of the sinking Son fills my soul with a joy and peace that I never want to end, but it fades away fast. Night always comes on earth, but not in heaven, a place where this beauty and light never fades.