I just got back from “The Twilight Zone.” No, I didn’t join Rod Serling for a sci-fi adventure. (Remember the series from the 50s – 60s that was filled with suspense, science fiction, fantasy, horror and often an unexpected twist?). Actually, I visited the towns of Forks and Port Angeles in Washington State. That’s right: all you “Twifans” out there who have been reading the Twilight Saga Collection by Stephanie Meyer or have watched the movies. I did, indeed, spend time there visiting relatives who live in that part of the Northwest Peninsula, where the adventures of Bella, Edward, and Jacob took place. (For the record: I have no vampire or tribal family connections there, in case you are wondering!). It was quite fun to watch scores of fans pour into the area to visit the places they had read and dreamed about. Local merchants offer all sorts of memorabilia to help fans capture a piece of the Twilight storyline for themselves. And yet, I do hope those that travel to the area take away more than Team Jacob or Team Edward T-shirts, more than a taste of Bella’s mushroom ravioli, more than a visit to the characters’ hangouts, and more than photos of storefronts and welcome signs. I hope their memories also include images of the awesome gifts of nature to be enjoyed on that Olympic Peninsula. This was my second trip to the region and once again I found myself caught up in the splendor of the landscape in that part of our country. Beautiful reflections of God’s creative handiwork. Stately cedars, firs, hemlocks and alders fill the mountainsides, while ferns and colorful wildflowers grace the clearings. A glorious compliment to the gentle sounds of the rivers that wind their way to the ocean’s edge. The scenery there certainly provides a study in contrasts. Majestic: simple. Old: new. Firm: flowing. Forceful: peaceful. We enjoyed exploring the area and spent an afternoon at Ruby Beach on the Pacific coast. On the way there, I quietly reminisced about childhood summer times at the beaches on the Mid-Atlantic coastline. Boardwalks. Summer cottages. Carnival rides. Candy shops filled with salt-water taffy. Entertainment abounding. Then my thoughts traveled to Texas, which I did when a teenager, and I began to picture the sandy beaches of Galveston Bay. More open space and access to the gulf waters. Beach houses on stilts. Casual. Calm. (Except, of course, for hurricane season!). This beach experience, however, was a different picture entirely. Tall trees stood firm near the water’s edge, allowing only limited space for the sand and smooth rocks to create a walking path. Timbers, washed ashore by the tides, stacked themselves in random patterns and provided a playground for the young at heart to test their skills on a balance beam. Just off shore, tall, rugged rock formations stood firm as the ocean’s waves crashed at their base. And colorful starfish nestled among smooth stones that covered the rocky shoreline. It was a great afternoon of picture-taking and memory-making with family. As I watched my niece’s children and my husband’s uncle explore treasures from the sea, I soon found myself in the center of yet another amazing study in contrasts: the forceful crescendos of waves ebbing and flowing against the rocks, and the gentle hands of curious young children and their great-great uncle as they reached down together to greet the starfish that had washed ashore. In that afternoon’s adventure, I came face to face with the vastness of God’s amazing creativity. The ocean that stretched to the horizon, the birds of the air and fish of the sea, the plants and trees, the rocks that emerged from the water, the stone and sand beneath our feet, the tide that rolled out to provide space for us to sit and enjoy his handiwork, and his most amazing creation: mankind. Whether we travel about the country or stay right here at home, may we take time from the challenges and busyness of life to capture a childlike wonder that will lead us to discover, enjoy and care for the gifts God has created for our pleasure. And, may we never forget to thank him for his goodness. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker, and writer. You can reach her at www.nancywilliams.net..

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