They may not be the Mountains of Mordor, but these dunes might as well be. I once took a pilgrimage there with "my precious."
These photos, shot Sunday morning in Panama City Beach, show the very spot where I carried a then 3-month-old baby girl, wrapped in a warm, fleece blanket. It was October thirteen years ago and I was taking my oldest daughter on her first ever trip to the beach. My folks and my sister's family were visiting from Indiana. As usual, I was up before the dawn. My new baby was still sleeping, but something was drawing me into the pre-dawn solitude towards the pristine, sugar sand dunes of the state park, just a few hundred yards from our condo.
I wrapped my already swaddled bundle of joy in my favorite blue, black and white blanket, as it was chilly on this dark morning along the Gulf coast of North Florida. I walked with her and a disposable camera, as I didn't have my Kodak digital camera back then, through the cool sand up into the dunes. Found a nice spot that sheltered us both from the wind and planted myself in the sand, clear of any sand spurs. Surrounded by those green and white blanketed hills, I waited for the sunrise. But I was met by the Divine.
Those of you old enough to remember the mini-series, Roots, will certainly recall the dramatic scene where the father, played by John Amos, raises his infant into the air symbolically. That is precisely how I felt in that moment, like I was offering this precious baby back to the cosmos, or back to God, from whence she came.
You have to understand this baby was a miracle blessing to me at the time. I've even written how she saved my life. But in that moment, I felt something more than mere gratitude. I felt the hand of the Almighty in a very real way. I was humbled beyond measure. I knew that I didn't deserve the great prize I had won, but I was going to cherish it with everything in my being. And that I have.
I have an outstandingly beautiful and gifted daughter who is about to turn 13 this summer. And as I walked that same path over the weekend, I was struck again by the beauty of those dunes and what they represent to me. I was overcome with emotion, as I am now, typing this through tears.
It was another pre-dawn stroll along the beach, like I'd had back in 2001. This time, I had my digital camera, and though the pics didn't all turn out spectacularly, I have them as a token...a reminder of what happened in my life over a decade ago. Those dunes will always hold a special place in my heart.
They are now a sacred spot. And just like the photo below, of the sun rising over them, the sun rises everyday in my life, rain or shine, because I have that bundle of joy in my life.
I love you, MK.