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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

A minus tide forecast for Deception Pass is like a siren’s call to a sailor lost at sea, at least to me; the magnetic pull is almost irresistible. And yet something about the planned end of summer outing caused me to wake in the middle of the night and declare to my spouse that

I would stay home this day. Caught between the need to wander the shore and the guilt producing weight of things left undone, I became paralyzed. My husband provided a way out. “Think of it as a bookend… something we need to do to mark the end of summer.”

It is this same husband who loves to do “together…alone” as much as I do. When the tides call us, we walk the beach access path a short way together, but once at the shore, we go our separate ways – he to meander the rock strewn sand above water line and me to cross the slippery algae draped stones to the exposed sandbars, shoes in hand, to walk the wave line.

Once safely across the hazardous rock beds this day, I padded through the

cold, gentle waves that rolled across the sand bar with a chorus of squawking gulls as accompaniment. I remembered that the last time I walked this shore, I had stopped to write a love note with a piece of driftwood on these sands for songwriter, friend, and mentor Jimmy Yessian. After finishing that day, I took a photo and texted it to his phone with the message, “thinking of you,” as I contemplated his recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Today, as I walked this shore, I thought about writing a note again, one that would now mark his passing. Gazing across the sea, I thought about his life and the legacy of his deep well of love and compassion which he lavishly shared with all of us who were thirsty.

Lulled into contemplation by the waves caressing this shore, it is impossible to not think about life… in all its beauty and all its complexity and all its sorrow. This ocean, so vast…our lives so complicated and intertwined. I watched the waves as they lifted and swelled, providing glimpses of soaked wood and debris. Much like us, I thought, they too had lived out their purpose and then, battered by storms and tossed in the wind, had come to this shore for their final journey’s rest.

And yet, as soon as the comparison arrived, it was crowded out by this truth:


Though we travel these waters, we are not like flotsam and jetsam at the mercy of a capricious sea.


Every microscopic drop of this sea was spoken into existence. Every drop of this sea was created with a purpose. And every drop of this sea was being led home…by forces too deep to comprehend.

Standing there gazing at the rolling sea, I recalled a surfer I once met on the North Shore of Oahu who said he loved to surf because he was able to ride a wave that had traveled

across the sea and was now taking its last breath before reaching the shore.

My friend Jimmy has ridden that wave’s last breath. Once he had been a single drop falling from a water filled sky. He had journeyed down the mountain in the rush of gravity and flooded into the sea. He had intermingled in a vast sea of humanity, changing the course of the drops around him. He had been battered and tossed by storms, but he had been held and guided by Love greater than his own.

And now he was home.

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

Language is a funny thing. If you had lived in the 1500’s you might have gathered small sticks into bundles for kindling and carried your “faggots” home to help with fire building. If you were an elderly woman in the 1600’s eking out a meager existence by making faggots and selling them, you would have been called the pejorative term “faggot-woman” or “faggot” for short.

If you were a fool or a simpleton in the 1800’s, you might be a dope. In the sixties, you might have smoked it. But now you would be excellent.

It is in this light that I have been ruminating(no pun intended) on the word “sheep”, which seems to have become a pejorative term in today’s culture used to describe people who willingly become vaccinated or wear masks or follow directives from authorities.

I don’t have a desire to examine the politics of this, but as a Christian, I have been contemplating the spiritual aspect of this term as well as the oft repeated concept of not wanting to be a “sheep” because all I need to do is trust God for my health.

Yes, in the Old Testament prophets often warn that the people of God were like sheep without a shepherd, with all of the chaos that implies. But the key word is WITHOUT. Even our psalmist acknowledges that the God who made us, who calls us His own, declares we are the sheep of His pasture.

That same God, in His mercy, gave us a Shepherd, one who would never leave us or forsake us. And, as I get to know Him better, my contentedness in my “sheep-hood” deepens.

I freely confess I am not a Biblical scholar and rather classify myself as a fool for Christ. But I do know this to the core of my being. I am a sheep.

I am living in New Testament times, and the sheep of God’s hand, of which I am one, are no longer without a shepherd.

My Shepherd, Jesus, made this very clear, “My sheep, listen to my voice;I know them, and they follow Me.” That’s what the sheep of God’s hand do – they follow.

But they don’t follow the ways of this world where position and privilege and personal liberties and power are the currency. They don’t follow political leaders or pledge allegiance to flags or governments. The sheep of God’s hand follow a Shepherd, one whose sole purpose on this earth is to serve others.

This is the Shepherd who is “good,” and His goodness is revealed in this: He willingly lays down His life for His sheep. If my purpose is to be more and more transformed into the likeness of Jesus, then any movement in that direction leads me away from self and towards doing whatever I can, laying down my life if need be, for the sake of others.

You may hear in these times some people demanding their rights and freedoms, but may you never hear that from followers of Jesus. You may hear the word “sheep” thrown at you like an epithet. Wear it like a crown. Because our Shepherd Himself was led “like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He did not open His mouth.”

Amidst the cacophony of the brokenness of these times, I listen for the sound of my Beloved Shepherd who calls me to lay down my life for the sake of others. And in the context of His ultimate sacrifice, what is being asked of me in these times comes at little cost.

I am a fool for Christ.

I am a sheep with a Shepherd.

And I experience my deepest peace when I listen to His voice and follow Him to the best of my ability each and every day in His mission to sacrifice and to serve.

  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

A family came into my view on a trail along the shores of Lake Whatcom early one morning as I walked my grand puppy. A young father was in the lead followed closely by his wife, and in the rear meandered a young boy on a small bike.

His progress was interrupted by an informative sign, and he stopped and called out to his parents. Their response caught me by surprise. Without a single trace of annoyance or impatience, they turned and walked back to the boy. Reaching the sign, his father began to read what was there, stopping along the way to answer the many questions that poured forth from the boy. This interruption in their walk caused no interruption in the spirit of the day. Gentleness surrounded this family, an unhurried sense of grace, especially towards this little boy.

I suppose my surprise was born of experience, having just visited a national park and witnessed the painful interactions between harried parents and hurried children. Adults seemed so determined to get to the “next thing,” and the children’s natural curiosity and amazement were slaughtered in the wake of these artificially created “must do” lists.

In the refreshing breeze of this gentler family encounter at Lake Whatcom, I began the slight ascent to the car through a forested section of the trail, a quiet almost mystical place of thick ferns and old growth.

A man passed me, and in his wake a little girl of about three was bent over something on the trail.

“No stopping!” he called after her gruffly.

Something in me snapped. He would not have his way with her today. I bent over next to her. “What do you have there?”

“A rock,” she said as she rose up smiling, cradling it as though it were a diamond. Her clear, limitless blue eyes looked up at me without guile as she shared her three-year-old insights about the rock treasure.

We walked together towards her dad, and then I remarked about her beautiful necklace laden with charms. She began to caress each one and tell me what it was until she came to a small round one encrusted with “diamonds”.

“It’s a…. it’s a….” Looking perplexed she looked up at me for help…

“Well, it’s very sparkly…and very round…”

“It’s a…. it’s a….” A panicked look crossed her face.

Just then, her dad interceded. “It’s the moon. The moon.” The world took a breath and relaxed. They both walked off, and it felt like the air had changed between them.

Finishing my walk, my thoughts were still held captive by the image of that little girl. All of us, I think, had come to take in some kind of view this day.

The little boy on the bike was viewing the world from his particular place… his three foot height. His parents climbed down from their perspective to help him interpret and appreciate his three foot view.

The little girl whose neck was adorned with a sparkly moon was viewing an eighteen inch world as she bent over the path. And the only person who could stand with her in amazement admonished her instead to “stop looking.”

Devoid of any insight, the day left me with a profound sadness. I suppose if there was any lesson in this day, it was simply this:

All my life, I have been that little girl, caught up in my eighteen inch world…

being admonished to stop looking,

and struggling to find words to describe the moon.

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