Narrow, Wooden Steps


I spent the first eight years of my life on Bainbridge Island, across from Seattle. In those days, the island was a friendly and familiar rural community, with only a gentle swell in population during the summer months. Where I lived our “neighbors” were Douglas firs, cedars, hemlocks, salal, Oregon grape and a plethora of Jurassic-Park-like ferns. I had no children my age to play with so usually spent the quiet evenings, sitting by the beach. Our house overlooked the bay, and a short set of narrow handmade, weathered wooden steps led down to the barnacled-rock-strewn sand. I would sit on those uneven steps at high tide and just stare at the dark green water that lapped the bottom step. I was never bored, never restless. I loved high tide because the water swelled up to the low bank in front of our house as though wanting to bless it, baptize it. I did my best thinking there on those steps. The long Pacific Northwest twilight was a perfect time to consider God’s perfection; to master introspection; to look at one’s reflection; and to ponder where and what direction one should take. Even if one were only five years old and barely cognizant of such lofty thoughts. The gentle lapping gray-green water licked away one stair at a time as the tide rose. The salty, tangy, cold seawater murmured the sweetest prayer and literally taught me how to pray. There, I learned to recognize and realize everything, God. God, the Orchestrator of twilight and the Creator of the wondrous star-filled night. I was just a child, sitting there, on the narrow, wooden stairs, drinking in the clean fresh air, but I was also Imagination, Prayer, and Worship, personified.

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