Skipping freely down the deserted beach near the edge of the sea, Dinah breathed deeply the fresh sea air. She had tossed her books at the sea wall and jumped over, escaping the pressure of a day she wished had never been. How she hated school! She couldn't wait for the day when she and her friends would be free from their daily bondage.
“Yuck!” It was the only word she could think of to express her feelings about school. “No, I'm not going to think about it now that I'm free!” she called to the wind as she ran in and out among the small waves.
She had enjoyed walking down the beach many times before, but never as much as today. A special love for the sand, the wind, and the restless waves filled her heart now. It was probably because of how foreign she had felt that morning, walking into a cold, gray classroom to begin another school year. Here it is, the first day of school and I'm already sick of it; how am I going to take a whole year of it? Just the thought of it made her slow her steps. And while the breeze blew some of her hair across her face, Dinah stopped and sat down in the slightly warm sand.
“Gone. It's gone. Summer's gone,” she whispered to herself and buried her head between her knees. She felt so alone, and so sad.
The wind patted her on the back, comforting her, as she rubbed the warm sand between her fingers. The sound of waves and screaming seagulls were the only sounds now that the swarms of summer sun-worshipers had all gone.
“Now you can have a little rest,” she thought out loud as she looked up and down the beach. There was no one around for miles. It made her glad. “That's one encouraging thing about summer being over,” she thought to herself.
Dinah got back up and started walking again, kicking the sand as she went. “What a life... winter, spring, summer, fall ... winter, spring, summer, fall… what kind of life is that? She thought back to her science class earlier that day, This year they were going to thoroughly learn how man had evolved from an amoeba. By the end of class, she knew she was nothing more than a bunch of blood and guts that just happened to be here.
“If that's all I am, what am I doing here anyway? Maybe I should just kill myself as Mona did?” She thought about her best friend who had taken her life a couple years back. Since then, Dinah had thought about doing the same thing, too, but never had the choice been so intense as today. A hopeless, lonely feeling welled up from within almost to the point of choking her.
Finding a cluster of rocks near the water's edge, Dinah sat down again to think, sheltered from the now strongly blowing wind. I better be heading home; my parents will be getting in from work soon. I'll he in trouble for corning in so late, but I don't care. Let them fret; after two martinis, they won't even remember I'm gone. Their “social drinking” makes me sick. They act so weird. They're going to want to know all about school, and how I liked it, and what I learned as they get half-drunk. Yuck!
Again her head fell between her knees as she huddled beside the rocks in the damp sand. Dinah did not look up for a long, long time, nor notice the sun as it dipped below the horizon.
Much later, Dinah stood up. Above her head was a glorious display of colored clouds. Suddenly she felt a feeling that she had sensed many times before. It had always been a very tiny feeling, but now it was overwhelming. She couldn't understand what it was or quite put it into words. It was strong. It was pure. It was clean. It drew her from her secure place among the rocks to the center of the sandy beach. First she turned one way, then another; her eyes gazed in disbelief at every corner of the sky.
Finally, she couldn't hold it in any longer. The powerful feeling that had Over forth from her soul. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” she uttered over and over — sometimes softly, sometimes whispered, sometimes crying out in tears. As she repeated the words over again, she realized what it was that had flooded her whole being. It was gratefulness. Dinah was grateful. Yes, she was grateful.
Dinah didn't stop to look around and see if someone might have come upon the deserted beach. Nor did she worry about people listening to her and thinking she had gone insane. No, she said to herself, I don't care if the whole world hears me. I know this is real. Whether they say I come from an amoeba or not, doesn't really matter, because I know, for .sure, that Someone, somewhere, is there. And that Someone cares about me. No one else in the whole world has seen this beautiful display. It was just for me. And I appreciate it.
“How could you see this awesome sky and not be grateful?” she called out to the seagulls. “Did you see what He did?” It surprised her to hear herself acknowledge this great force in the sky in such a personal way. “Yes,” she repeated, “He did it just for me.”
The evening twilight soon covered the bright sky with a deep blue veil. As Dinah turned and walked back up the beach, everything looked different. “I am different, too,” she thought. “I don't know what has happened, but I've seen something that's real. I am grateful. Grateful to the One who made me more than just a blob of blood and guts. There's a purpose for everything I see and for me. And more than anything else, I want to know this purpose and know the One who is my Source ...”
For someone like Dinah, it won't take long before she knows... A grateful person will soon find the Tree of Life.