Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer--the "stone of help"--for he said, "Up to this point the Lord has helped us!" I Sam. 7:12, NLT
As soon as my feet touch the sand, I feel myself relax into this space--this holy space.
The ocean and seashore have always felt like my soul-home, a place where my spirit finds rest. The rhythms of tides, the sound of rolling pebbles and crashing waves. I can breathe, here.
My children scatter in all directions. The twins run back and forth along the edge of the foamy whitewater. They open their arms like birds, running full hearted and free into the wind. The boys dig for crabs and write silly messages in the sand with long sticks of sun-blanched driftwood.
My ballerina dances barefoot ballet, her body moving lithe and graceful beside the sea.
Me, I just watch the ocean and breathe. Exhale pain and the past. Inhale peace and grace.
I sink my toes and body into the sand, grounding myself.
And then I build a little altar of rocks, my own Ebenezer.
The children come by adding bits and stick, several feathers. James draws lines around my Ebenezer using his toes--a sort of Zen sand-drawing. One by one I ask them what they're grateful for and why. I ask them to remember how far the Lord has brought us. I ask them to remember this.
Remember God loves you, always and unconditionally. Remember God with us. Remember God has a beautiful plan for your life and no matter the pain, suffering or abuses we suffer--LOVE is stronger.
And then, I stand and dance myself. I dance for freedom, I dance for hope, I dance for the future.
My feet make a question mark in the sand.
And so, I dance the question.
I embrace the mystery.
I am Elizabeth Esther. I am courageous. I am a survivor. I am free and I am strong. My story is broken for you.
This evening at Easter Vigil, my three oldest children will enter the Catholic Church through baptism, confirmation and First Communion. Tonight is a milestone in my family history, another Ebenezer. Your prayers for peace, unity and continued reconciliation within my extended family would be deeply appreciated. Much love, EE.