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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Why are beaches so beautiful?

An amazing set of conditions
The reason we flock to sandy beaches in the summer is worth exploring for a moment. A number of different factors all combine to make beaches so alluring. Here are some of the main ones:
  • #1: beaches are sandy - unlike rocky coastlines, so beaches are soft underfoot and soft to lie on
  • #2: beaches are washed by the tides - without the tides, a sandy beach could be a most unpleasant smelly place because organic debris washed ashore would stay there and rot
  • #3: beaches are refreshed by the tides - every morning the beach is new because the tide has washed away the sand castles and footprints of yesterday
  • #4: because of the slope of the sea floor leading up to the beach, if there are any waves, they fall over and become breakers on the beach (that's what causes a breaker, a wave falls over) - producing a sound that we enjoy, an interesting feature of the sea - and if you are a surfer an opportunity for fun
  • #5: beaches are made interesting by the tidal movement of the sea - not only do shells get washed up each day, but  interesting objects (and rubbish too!) which have fallen overboard appear on the beach each day. When I was a boy growing up in Karachi, I would love collecting old battered radio parts and even watches on the beach....
  • #6: sand has variable properties: when it's dry, it soft to rest on, when it's wet it's firm and easier to walk on and can be formed into sandcastles, art or whatever you please
  • #7: the different thermal properties of sea and land means that on a sunny day there is always a breeze at the sea/land interface, making the heat more bearable
I don't for one moment believe these conditions are accidental. They are the craft work of a loving Creator who has not merely fine-tuned the whole grande universe for life, but fine-tuned the small details of it for our pleasure. A universe suitable for life could be a harsh and ugly place, but the God who is there and is not silent has made it beautiful and enjoyable, to draw us to him.

The shortness of this life
Beaches also remind us of the transiency of life: we are here today and gone tomorrow.
We walk along the beach in one direction, and by the time we return our footprints have long been washed away, lost forever in the movement of the sea, sand and waves:

                          "Teach us to number our days aright, that we
                                                  may apply our hearts to wisdom..."
                   
said the aged Moses (Psalm 90) in an inspired and reflective moment.

There can be no better way to apply our hearts to wisdom than to seek the good God who has revealed himself everywhere in his beautiful creation and revealed himself supremely in Jesus Christ, his only Son, while there is time. 

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