Sunday, December 17, 2006


Return to the Beach

There seems little point in being creative when the larger point of my life has utterly failed. If I have to turn the planning over to God, well, of what worth am I?

Perhaps that's just God's way of letting things fall apart that never should have been built in the first place. I had patches on the patches. What part of my life did I ever live for myself? Most of it was done just to keep other people off my back. Protective coloration.

Sand sculpture was a real thing in the interstices between fogs of phoniness but my own ideas were so befogged I didn't really understand. Everything slid downhill and I didn't see any point in arresting the descent. God kept me from following the rest of the wreckage but I had no idea why. I waited.

Some things might be coming clear. What do I care about? Good question. Even creativity was more of a bridge across empty time than any truly satisfying act. If it had been satisfying I'd have torn it down and thrown the pieces away. I had to do sculpture while remaining unaware of the meaning, so I couched it in terms of simple physical pleasure and the active intellectual balance of engineering and art. Walking a knife edge, and I fell off.

God knows no limit to kindness, though. Day by day he just held onto me so that I didn't do anything... final. Waiting.

So, today came up sunny and cold. I have done two sculptures this year, both casually done while walking home along the beach. The first of these, in July, was very quick. The tide was rising and in a few minutes I raised a pile of sand and carved a small arch. Then the tide reclaimed the area, dissolving it. Still, it was completed. A few months later my accidental timing worked out better. The tide was going down so I had time to build a much bigger arch. All I had to work with was my hands. It was a little lumpy but still the elegant shape came through. Today the tide was low and I deliberately set out to do a sculpture.

I picked up two small tools and walked out. Unlimited sunshine from a blue sky. Classic southern California winter. Winter also makes sand unpredictable, and the good sand I'd used a few weeks previously was gone. Still, one-day-beach sand sculptors learn to run what the sea brung. I built a pile in accordance with the sand available. In other words, short and small. The water comes out too fast for anything big to stick.

Small tools work well for small sculptures. I trimmed here and there, smoothed things out and then started carving detail. The result was nicely braided and perforated. A delicate touch is needed with this stuff. Free-piled coarse sand is very weak. Kind of like me on a bad day. Don't prod me or things will fall off, just as I did at the top of this piece with a misdirected cut. Oh, well, the lack becomes part of the design.

A sign of better things coming? Or taking a break? Or just a nice little thing to do on a sunny afternoon? I've been beaten up enough that I have no confidence in the future... except for God's continuing hold on me. My feet still dangle over an abyss, but I think I see hints of new ground filling in the space down there. I don't have confidence, but God does. Time is His, and one thing I know is that I don't begin to know everything that God can do. He's much more interesting than I thought.

God, caring about one man? Amazing.

Yeah for you! I am so glad you did a sculpture today. It was gorgeous weather!!!

Larry, it is pretty amazing about God's love. *Sigh* very amazing
Yes, it is amazing. Bless ya, Larry. I've got to catch up on everyone's writing.
Hey Larry, Just stopping by to wish you a Merry Christmas. I am so glad I found your blog this year.
ditto what Layla said. Merry Christmas, Larry. Praying sandpiles of blessings upon you, friend
Praying for a 2007 filled with Him....your blog has been a blessing to me.
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