My husband, Mac, and I drove to the Oregon coast last week. It is a 4.5 – hour drive through burn-scarred forest, along rushing white water, and over majestic peaks. Mac drove and I sat quietly, inspired by the beauty emerging from the forest’s scars, new life emerging from charred earth.
We make this trip annually, staying in either a seaside hotel or cottage near the heart of our favorite beach town. We usually spend our days driving the coastal highway, north to south to north again, catching all the attractions in between and experiencing the food and culture offered by the local restaurants and coffee shops. But this year, we decided to take a different approach.
My husband found a tiny house community tucked neatly in a cove, down the road from our favorite coffee shop – 48 sweet miniatures, neatly lining a gravel road. The community website boasted of the close proximity to great seafood restaurants, a 5-minute walk to the beach, and included a pretty exhaustive list of all the things you can do, by date and time.
But our lives have been complicated this year and all our hearts wanted to do was rest, take a few days to detach, and catch our breath.
Tiny house living has been an interest of ours for years. We looked forward to what this experience would teach us.
We brought our 13-year-old dog – Titus. He loves running on the beach and swimming in the tide pools. But, by far, his favorite activity is investigating every bed and chair offered by the rental property. His experience in the tiny house was no disappointment. He found creative ways to jump onto our elevated bed and loved the closeness between the bed and the dining table. There’s nothing better than begging for scraps while stretched out on the bed.
We spent our days walking the beach, collecting shells and small flat rocks that later will be painted and given as gifts. We enjoyed roaming through local farmers’ markets, talking with vendors, and listening to their stories. We stopped at neighboring art shops, admiring each artist’s creativity and asking each other, “What do you think, does this piece need to come home with us?” But, our favorite activity was walking down the road that led into the tiny village and picking the wild blackberries growing along the roadside. We picked and nibbled, laughed and talked, and Titus investigated each blade of grass and leaf that lined the street.
It was a time of rest, a chance to be renewed.
As the sun rose each morning, I walked Titus down a dirt path, through green fields, past a row of pine trees, and to the community’s dog park. He loved exploring the smells and scents left by other animals. We played fetch. He ran with enthusiasm towards the ball but came up short of returning it. I was left with retrieving the ball as he barked and danced, his entire body wiggling uncontrollably – doggy bliss on full display.
As Titus’ interest started to fade, it was time to leave the park and walk home. Gulls sailed overhead, and songbirds rose from the ground, finding a place to perch in the twists of branches. I could smell the sea and heard its waves crash on the shore. All a cue that life is full in this space they call Tiny Tranquility.
At the end of each day, Mac and I sat on the deck, Titus curled at our feet. The sun would slide from sky to shore and then to the edge of the world. Our day was done and we were left with the memories of all the small things, precious jewels tucked away in our hearts.
When our tiny adventure had come to an end, we packed the car, headed East, and made the journey home. Yet, something had shifted. The hustle we were trying to escape was gone and in its place was a peacefulness.
Jennifer Dukes Lee in her book, Growing Slow, shares this thought about a busy life,
“We feel the pressure to hurry. We feel this urge to constantly check our phones, to monitor our progress, and to wonder if we should be further along than we are. We are weary from our frantic-paced living. Our hearts are squeezed. This accelerated lifestyle affects our sleep, our mood, our relationships, and our ability to truly appreciate the beautiful, everyday gifts from God.”
I wonder if you ever find yourself running at a frantic pace? Darting from one project, one task, one activity to the next, never stopping long enough to enjoy the moments or even taking the time to reflect on what the circumstances could be teaching you.
I lived a life in constant motion. A 6:00 AM sunrise followed by 15 hours of activity – work, volunteering, family, friends, and more work, all repeated until the weekend. On the weekends, the day started slower building to a crescendo and then physical, emotional, and mental collapse. It was an unsustainable pace that I managed to keep up for some 30 years.
And then a small thing blocked an artery and slow became a way of life, beauty emerging from a scar running the length of my chest, new life emerging from broken pieces.
Our tiny experience reminded us of the value of being present, intentional, and living small. My scar reminds me of all the small blessings that make up my life and today I try to be more aware of the hustle, the incessant busyness that plagues our culture.
The Bible reminds us,
“Come to me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. Accept my teaching. Learn from me. I am gentle and humble in spirit. And you will be able to get some rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Easy-to-Read Version)
I pray BeLOVED, that you can experience the beauty of small things – a quiet walk along a shore, riverbank, or the forest floor, the beauty of a songbird’s voice, the magic of finding a treasure hidden in plain sight, or the power uncovered in sitting still and being present, intentional, alive.
God has given each of us life and He offers rest and a new way of living. I hope you take the time to slow down, accept His offer, and acknowledge His precious gift.