On August 8, 2019, we rolled into Waldport, Oregon – “Where the ocean meets the sea”.
With only around 3000 permanent residents and one pizza joint, it’s the kind of place where, after a few days, you feel like you know the check-out guy at the grocery store and the wild hippie-woman with the salt & pepper braids that was singing the Songs of Woodstock at the farmers market – and the cool thing is that they nod and smile when you walk by because they feel like they know you too.
It took years before I found ’my people’ when we left Bloomington, In to move to Greencastle – but it’s been easy in Waldport. In mid-August they all congregate at the beach around 8:25pm to cheer for the sunset.
So far we’ve driven over 13,000 miles, to Alaska and back, and we’ve moved, on average, every 3-4 days. The camper is still covered in dirt-road dust, and her backside is covered in stickers chronicling our adventures.As the best summer ever came to a close, we were beginning to realize that we were road-weary! By the time we rolled in to Waldport, it was time to slow it down and find a new groove.
We celebrated our 17th anniversary here. The kids finished their first full week of online school here. We sang our hearts out at a little church here. I hit the beach for long walks alone, and we packed the cooler full of drinks and snacks to spend sunny days on the beach together, exploring tidal pools, inhabiting the driftwood forts built by “our people” who had come before us.
Our 9 days in Waldport were as perfect as anything this side of heaven can be.
Especially when we got to experience the precious presence of God, through a little girl named Eve.
There are several beaches to choose from around here, but we saved the beach at Seal Rocks State Park for last. We got there at high tide, around 2:30, to find a driftwood fort near the entrance of the beach access trail, vacant and waiting for us. Sam kicked off his shoes & started remodeling, Edie and Jeff went to explore the rocks and take pictures, and Millie Mae played with the 2 little red-bone hounds and the big lazy bulldog down the way. I set up my new beach chair, while Max, my sweet old dog, sat in the shade of my chair watching everything and everyone around us.
We were there for hours. The stream of people coming & going, the tide waters receding, and the sun shining almost lulled me into a nap, but then I saw her ~ a tiny little one who had plunked herself down in the sand at the entrance of the beach. She sat there and played for the longest time, raising fistfuls of sand up in the air – over and over – and watching with awe as the grains slipped through her little fists, her patient mother staying with her while her dad, brother, and older sister headed off to find their spot for the afternoon. I didn’t want to stare….but every few minutes I found my eyes drifting over to her. Her white-blond pony tail almost the same color as the sand she was so completely delighted by.
After a long while, her mama picked her up, walked her toward the water, and set her down at the shoreline. As the waves touched her toes she responded with the same measure of delight. Then they started walking toward us and the little girl saw Millie, she started to point & yell. It was obvious that she would settle for nothing less than meeting our big hairy girl. Millie was equally interested in her, and that is how the door opened for us to meet Eve and her family.
Millie is a vocal dog. In her excitement she let out a big deep bark, and Eve responded with a strong “NO”! Unintimidated, that tiny girl marched right up to Millie Mae, and as she got closer I saw worry-lines on her mama’s face, and the signs of Downs Syndrome on the little girl’s face. When they were in reaching distance of Millie, and us by default, her mama crouched down to capture her attention and began to talk and sign to her. She turned from her mama, marched right up to Jeff & gave him a high five.
The mama smiled and apologized…but there was no need. Eve’s presence brought joy with it – we were all so excited to spend our afternoon with her.
She wanted to play frisbee with Edie. She wanted to help Sam collect firewood (really, she kept taking sticks out of the fire ring, but Sam just smiled and enjoyed letting her wreak havoc on his project). She wanted to sit in the driftwood fort. Eve wanted to hang with the Lancasters, and her energy brought us all to life.
As Eve bounced around, her mama & I talked about our journey’s. They were moving from St. Louis to Seattle and decided to make a vacation of it, and we shared about our big road trip. We talked about our careers, and our families, and how beautiful Waldport is. Eve’s attention shifted from person to person, wanting to be involved in what they were doing with an equal amount of joy and captivation. Her mama kept thanking us for playing with her, and occasionally apologized, as if Eve might be imposing and we were simply polite enough to tolerate her unique child.
I finally told her that there was no need to thank us or apologize for Eve. That child was a total joy, a miracle, and the highlight of our day.
When she wearied of the frisbee, firewood, and dogs, and the rest of the crew stood in a circle enjoying conversation, Eve and I plunked down in the wet sand to draw. We drew rainbows & fish & a beautiful woman with an afro and big dangly earrings. I wished that I was a better artists, while Eve clearly thought I was Rembrandt. We drew a big sunshine and sang, “You are my sunshine” as the sun itself sunk lower in the sky & the tide withdrew leaving little tide pools full of life…..and when the afternoon turned to evening, it was time for Eve and her family to leave the beach for dinner, a good night’s sleep, and the rest of their journey. Eve’s mama signed “nice to meet you”, and i signed it back to Eve. She scooped Eve up in her arms, and then Eve reached for me with both hands, demanding a hug – and oh, what a hug!
That little miracle wrapped her arms around me, put her head on my shoulder, and started to pat my back in the sweetest way. We stayed like that, in heaven, for several minutes before she grabbed my face and planted a wet kiss right on my lips. When I put her down, she walked over to Jeff and signed “Sing!”. He was so surprised that he didn’t know what to do, but she gave him an out when she leaned into him for a big hug. She planted a bit wet kiss on his cheek and then she went back to her mama.
I thanked her for sharing her sweet girl with us.
And I told her that I would pray for them as they moved to a new community – Her eyes teared up and she promised to do the same for us.
And our families parted ways….
The sea-birds chattered, the waves crashed, and our little fort felt so quiet and empty….
Jeff looked at me with a smile and told me not to cry – and, to my surprise, I didn’t.
But as he and kids went to explore the tide pools, I did walk down to the waters edge to feel the waves sweep the sand from underneath my feet, and I prayed for our new friends.
I prayed for the rest of their road trip.
I prayed for their transition as they build a new life in a new place.
And I prayed that they will find “their people” quickly.
People who love them so much that they never feel the need to apologize for Eve.
People who thank THEM for the privilege of spending time with her
Because Eve is perfect ~ Delighting in the grains of sand that the rest of us brush away.