Last week, I was at the beach. This doesn’t happen often. The last time I was there was four years ago. Usually, if I plan a trip, I want one full of sites, foods, and geographical locations that are new to me. But every now and then, I just require a trip to the beach. I love to be busy and moving because I love trying to swallow every bit of life on this earth I can because, well, life is short- even at it’s longest. But when I find myself at the beach, life seems to slow down. I forget about the clock. I neglect keeping current with my social media life. I just sit in my beach chair, toes in the sand with the waves gently caressing them, book in my hand when I’m alert enough, and recollect myself. While the sounds of the ocean, seagulls, and fellow beach bums lull me into relaxation, I observe and I think.
After everyone in my crew abandoned me for the pool on my last day at the beach, I dragged my chair up to the half-moon tent we had set up for shade so I could dodge any extra sunburn for a bit. In between reading my book and glancing up at the white sandy beach and gray waves, I saw a middle-aged man wearing read shorts and a cap riding his bicycle. He stopped just before the tide could reach him and got off his bike. Then, he sat down and let the ocean splash over his body.
He started inching himself forward to slightly deeper waters, using only the strength of his arms to shift himself. Then, he began to do a partial crab walk parallel to the shore through the water. I thought it was a little odd, but thought that perhaps it was part of his exercise routine.
My nose went back in my book for a little while and then when I shifted my gaze beyond it once more, I saw him standing beside his bicycle holding a tubular, flesh colored thing in one hand a sock in the other. I squinted a little and realized that what he was holding was…a leg.
My eyes drifted from his hands downward and saw the place where his own leg was truncated. Still, there he was balancing just fine.
But I felt guilty. I felt like I should offer to help him. I wrestled with my thoughts about whether I should because it seemed like I was the only one seeing this.
But I decided that I didn’t want to take any dignity away from him if he was capable. So, I settled upon watching him and preparing myself to quickly run over if it seemed he was struggling.
I sat there and quietly watched the world pass this half legless man by the entire time.
Though the odds were against him to move at all, he chose to move in rhythm with everything around him.
He was there for a while. Twenty minutes maybe.
This is what I observed from that man with less legs than most…
He took his time.
He tried new methods.
He didn’t act entitled to anything because of his loss.
He cleaned himself off, put his leg back on, and got back on his bike after crawling around the ocean to cool his perspiring body down.
And he enjoyed one more day at the beach that His creator saw fit to allow him to embrace.
What obstacles have you faced that have brought you down to your last leg? How did you respond?
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been on my last leg, I wasn’t nearly as graceful at responding as that man was. We could all stand to learn from how he responded to the challenges that his life had faced.
As I walked away that day, with both of my legs dusted by the sand stuck to my sunscreen, I couldn’t see the man any more. He was much further down the beach than I was, embracing a day at the beach that the Ruler of the Seas had given him, and peddling both with his new and last leg.