I am beginning the drawings for an icon of a Guardian Angel. Which of course set me off thinking about angels, guardian angels, and my own experiences and beliefs. Which brought to mind an afternoon a while back, on Bullard Beach on the Oregon coast.
It was a chilly, stormy day. I had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours on the beach, with my faithful dogs, while my husband had a business meeting. We packed a picnic lunch–complete with dog biscuits–and were dropped off on the shore. It appeared that high tide had already peaked. The sand was wet. There were huge logs were everywhere. No sunshine today. The dogs and I ambled along the shore. On our left were low sandstone cliffs, about 15 feet high. On our right, the surf roared ominously with the approach of a new storm. We found a break in the cliffs after about 1/4 mile, with a sandy ledge. We climbed up there and ate our lunch, watching the waves come in and out from our comfortable perch. I was astounded at the power of the waves. A mere foot of water was able to roll those huge logs. Looking back in the direction from which we had come, I was further surprised to see that some of the waves were coming all the way up to the cliffs. Maybe the high tide hadn’t peaked. The thought occurred to me that perhaps being here just then wasn’t such a safe idea. Duh. The waves were coming and going in sets, so, during a lull in tidal action, we decided to make a break for it–back to our entry point beyond the cliffs. We scurried along. Up ahead, waves continued in break unevenly along the shore, sometimes engulfing the beach area, sometimes slapping noisily against the cliff. I figured we would have to wait a bit for another lull, then run for it–avoiding those big logs which continued to creak and roll in the frothy waves. The dogs loved the running part. Larry barked joyously. This was fun! Ivan ran ahead and began excavating by a log, digging furiously, a geyser of sand erupting behind him.
What follows happened in an instance, but seemed to occur in slow motion. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big wave approaching. I looked around quickly. We were trapped between the cliff and water. Too high, too sheer to climb. The wave was coming fast, too fast for an old lady to outrun. It would be about knee-deep. Deep enough to wash away little Ivan, to roll those big logs, to potentially knock Larry and I off of our feet. Definitely dangerous. “Dogs! Come here!” I yelled. Larry was already right there, of course, being a Perfect Dog as always. A small miracle occurred: Ivan, digging industriously, instantly stopped and ran to me (that has never happened before or since!) We raced to the cliff-face, the water surging up behind us.
I turned my back to the water, put a dog in front of each knee, wound my hands tightly through their collars so that we could not be separated. I leaned all of my weight against the cliff, braced my feet solidly and pressed the dogs against the sandstone. And waited, that brief moment, that pregnant pause. The wave came, sloshing against the cliffs on either side of us. Here is the amazing, astounding, absolutely true part: In a perfect circle surrounding us, the wave trickled down to foam, and stopped. Not a foot or paw of ours was wet. Just an outline of foam all around us. The water receded. We were safe. Dry. Untouched. Stunned, I leaned there for a moment longer, the dogs patiently squooshed between my legs and the rocks. I took time for a prayer of gratitude before jogging back towards safety.
Even writing about this more than a year later gives me goosebumps.