She looked to be 8 years old. Her long brown hair fell in wet strings around and in her face. She had no time to push it aside. She carried a skim board that looked to be more than half her size.
She looked ahead at the rolling waves, judging the time to throw her board on the water’s surface followed by a quick belly land on the board.
The Saturday surf class filled the ocean with boards and bodies, most of them tweens and teens. She sifted her way through the crowds going for the next wave. She was undaunted by age or experience. She was my hero that day.
I was drawn to her adventure. I was inspired by the lure of excitement in her eyes and cheered her on silently. I celebrated from the shore when I saw her face break out into a huge smile as the salt water splashed over her. She caught the wave she was after. Her size didn’t hold her back. Nothing kept her from experiencing the joy she set out to find.
Catching the surfing class or the boys who skim across the edge of the water are my favorites to watch. Their energy glides across the surface infusing me with a shared moment of fun. Their youth reminds me of my own, when life seemed to be waiting for me.
Our part of the ocean doesn’t produce big waves. Some days the surface is as smooth as glass. These days, they practice their balance and it reminds me of the off kilter days I have. These days are an opportunity to practice my balance but I forget it’s about practice. I forget the patience needed to realize the goal.
I imagine standing on a surfboard with my arms flying out trying to steady myself as the water moves under the board. Surely it would be more fun than balancing on one foot with dumbbells in hand in our garage. At least the scenery is prettier.
Sometimes I have my camera focused on the surfers waiting for the next wave. I don’t have their patience so I move on to the action. Another lesson they are trying to teach me that I’ve not learned.
The little girl has moved from the ocean to the sand and is hitting a volleyball back and forth with a woman. I forget how tireless 8 year olds can be. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much they can teach us.
Patience. Enthusiasm. Perseverance. Joy in life’s little pleasures. Excitement for life. She is not working for a prize. There is no one to announce her name and no podium for her to stand on. The only award she will receive is the one she wears on her face: joy.
Yes, she is my hero, pushing on through the crowds of older kids, making her way in her youth and inexperience. She is meeting the waves face on and she is laughing all the way.
Jesus called over a little child. He put His hand on the top of the child’s head.
Jesus: This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest. And whoever welcomes a child, welcomes her in My name, welcomes Me. Matthew 18:2-5 the VOICE