Sand Castle Blessings


It was the perfect day. The sun was shining, the sky was a vibrant blue, the clouds were pillows of cotton and the breeze was light and cool. God’s creatures were enjoying the day and so I decided, my three year old son and I must too!

We drove off to the community lake. My son and I were alone walking the lake shore for only a few minutes when we came upon the most intricately built sand castle country I had ever seen. There were many small sand castles along roads that traveled through tall sand bridges. A mote was carved into the sand with water from the lake flowing through it. Over the mote a tree bark draw bridge led to a large sand castle on a sand island all its own. There were duck feather flags proudly displayed from sand castle turrets whose feathers gently swayed in the breeze. This sand castle country was so inspiring, I could almost see the prince and princess kissing in the castle window, the town’s people hurrying through the streets and knights riding on horse back across the bridges.

Oh, how I wished I had brought a camera! Surely my photograph of this sand castle country would win the annual “Life in Our County” photo contest this year! I considered going home to retrieve my camera, but I knew my young son would not understand our sudden departure and be very distressed at having to leave so soon. So, we continued walking along the lake. My son chattered excitedly about butterflies and caterpillars and I planned to return later in the day to take a photograph of the sand castle country. I thought about angles and lighting and how this photo would be an unspoken tribute to life in our county.

A short while later, a woman with a boy just a few years older than my son joined us at the lakeside.

The young boy ran to play with my son and I began chatting with the woman. We both kept an eye on the children.

I watched as the children played along the lakeside. Little by little their play brought them closer and closer to the sand castle country. I thought, just wait until the boy and his Grandmother see the sand castle country! Then, all of a sudden, the boy spotted the sand castle country and jumped upon it stamping every last bit of it into mere grains of sand on the beach. Duck feathers and tree bark began floating away in the lake, now just debris. The boys Grandmother took no notice of this atrocity at all!

My mouth opened to scream my dismay at this callous offense, but no sooner did I open my mouth, I closed it again and bit my tongue. Why should this young boy or his Grandmother see that sand castle country as a work of art just because I did? How could that young boy possibly know he just destroyed my winning photo dream?

The children continued playing, the Grandmother continued talking and I was thinking, how like life itself that sand castle country was. One minute it had a life of its own and the next it was crushed under a heavy weight. Just like my winning photo dream had just been. Then I returned to the conversation at hand and to keeping an eye on the children playing and enjoying the beautiful day. Soon the sand castle country was forgotten.

A couple of hours later, while driving home from the lake, I thought of the sand castle country once more and how it had been destroyed along with my prize winning photo dream. Then I realized, it wasn’t a sand castle country or a prize winning photo that really mattered at all. What really mattered was a young boy instantly befriended my son. If he had not done so, my son who is an only child, would have spent yet another day without a playmate. Beside me walked a woman who instantly befriended me. If she had not done so, my day would have been a little emptier then it had turned out to be.

God taught me a lesson that day. For every disappointment that life lays at our feet, in return it gives us two blessings. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts to find them.

-E.  Stephen