"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, August 27, 2012

Private Spaces in Crowded Places


“I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” 
Jordan, The Great Gatsby


I was at the beach a lot this summer. It was definitely my peace. My solitude. But how can a crowded beach give me that quiet, intimate peace I often desire? My mom and I talked about this while taking some of our weekly trips with the boys. She referred to the above quote from The Great Gatsby. We decided that Jordan’s truth above applies to beaches as well.

~Even though there are hundreds of people on the beach, I have my own space. My umbrella, my beach blanket, cooler. For five or six hours, these possessions claim this spot of sand as mine. The constant white noise of the waves crashing and falling against the sand drowns out all those distant conversations. I love it. I can really hear myself think, pray, create new ideas.

~Forty minutes away from my own home is Rhode Island’s shoreline. Sitting on one of Newport’s beaches is wonderful inspiration for me, particularly as I write a scene set in this very town more than two hundred years ago. An old church towers on the horizon. The place is full of history, and I can’t help but drink it in.

~The beach is a great place to people watch. To observe people reacting to each other, and to nature. I love eating a thick slab of cream cheese- drenched zucchini bread under my shady umbrella, all while observing the human race before me. No one knows (or seems to know!) I’m watching. Taking notes. Filing them away for a story.

~The beach is so vast, a place of such beauty, that I can’t help but feel God’s larger presence. Every day the constant, uncontrollable ocean wipes away the mess we've left behind, leaving a smooth, placid, shoreline in its wake. It reminds me of what God has done for us. Wiped away our messes and given us something beautiful--His grace, His love. He is so much bigger than me, bigger than all the people occupying the stretch of shoreline. I sense His greatness, I feel His love. I bask in the intimacy He shares with me.

~What are some of your favorite private spaces in crowded places?

10 comments:

  1. I like concerts. I don't go often but there's something to them for me.

    And of course the beach. We have dear friends in Newport.
    ~ Wendy

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    1. I could definitely see concerts being private in their special way, Wendy. :)

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  2. The mall is also awesome for people watching. :P

    But nothing beats the beach!! Makes me want to go right now. But I live in Phoenix, so it would take me about 6 hours to drive to one. *sigh*

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    1. Oh, wow. I can't imagine. Good thing you went on that cruise a couple months ago, Lindsay, right? ;)

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  3. Love that quote, Heidi! The beach and the mall are great people watching places. I also love coffee shops...not so crowded, but I love watching people there as well. :)

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  4. I so know what you mean about people-watching when others have no idea what I'm doing. The secret life of a writer... :)

    Hope you're having a great week, Heidi!

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    1. So nice to be understood! :)

      You have a great week also, Sarah!

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  5. I enjoy watching people at the airport. Everyone is so frantic, and not always on their best behavior. (especially me with my four kids)

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    1. lol! Four kids will do that to you!

      Thanks for stopping by, Crystal!

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