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On Seeing A Child At The Beach

By Dr. Dick Wieder


Fortunate are those who live near or have access to the sea. Especially in the Spring--before the influx of tourists. The air is balmy and not too hot. The water is still too cold for swimming except for the hardiest of souls. But the beach is beautiful. Uncrowded. Quiet. Clean. Refreshing.

Recently my wife Patti and I spent a Sunday afternoon at Folly beach--our favorite. Just a short drive from our home. There we greased-up, kicked back, and soaked up the early spring rays. And here and there loosely scattered about were others who also appreciate the comfortable solitude of the area.

I sat watching the surf as it regularly and without complaint went about its task of grinding rock to sand. The sound of the surf is generally agreed to be one of the mose peaceful and restful of any that strikes the human ear. It is a rush and rumble of sound that must certainly be the sighing of the earth itself in quiet relaxation.

Since Folly Beach is on the eastern shore of the American continent, the morning sun comes up from the sea and directs its rays almost perpendicular to the shoreline. So sitting on the beach facing the water, the early morning scavengers and beachcomers become silouettes against the sea and sky.

Two people caught my eye. It was a father strolling the beach with his small son. As they came toward my wife and me it became apparent that the child was less than three years of age, was wearing a gree teeshirt, and a diaper. It was one of those disposable diapers and was soaked with seawater and sand. It was comical in a way because the wet heavy diaper had stretched out and the portion between his legs hung to his ankles. That in itself--besides evoking laughter--also brought to mind how tolerant are children! No self-respecting adult would dare be caught in public in such a fashion. But children do not mind at all. Because--as this child--all children are too caught up in the wonder of the world to be concerned with fashion or fad.

This bedraggled, sea-soaked youngster was having the time of his life. He was smiling flapping his hands as he ran in that stumbling manner that all young children do before their coordination is honed to smoothness. His eyes were bright with glorious curiosity at the gulls, the waves, the sand. Stopping every few steps to pick at a shell or pebble half buried in the beach. And everything he found he brought to his daddy following closely behind--just far enough away though so as not to stiffle the young boy's natural curiosity. With every precious gift from his son, the father's face lit up with excitement. This served to spur the boy on to find new things.

What a joyful existence is that of the child. Everything is new. Everything is fresh. The world is most exciting to these little bundles of people. And what a wonderful father that young man must be. For under his protective eye, this masterpiece of creation, this most beautiful creature that is the child scurried about investigating the world around him!

No where else in one's life is there such a degree of awe. No where in the allotted three score and ten is there an innocence more beautiful than that of children. Never again will one trust others as he does as a child. No where in all of nature is there a thing of beauty that can equal the human child. The child--innocent, loving, alert, and possessor of the greatest potential--is surely the creator's masterpiece.

And drifting into my consciousness when viewing this scene came words I remember from the long ago. And for the first time in my life I fully understood the words, one far greater than the you and the me, of the Pure One when he chided his deciples "Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven."

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