Friends and I enjoyed sun, sand, and surf with other beachgoers on a recent Saturday. Sitting slathered in sticky sunscreen beneath our umbrellas, we pointlessly brushed sand from our legs as we discussed evening plans. The seagulls overhead laughed louder than the swimmers splashing in nearby waves while those of us on the beach napped, read, or simply watched people. My friends discussed how relaxing it was and how nice it would be to sleep late the next morning.
Sleep late? I mentioned to them that we only get so many sunrises in a lifetime. Shouldn’t we get up to look at a few?
They stared blankly for a second then shook their heads in unison. No.
In the wee hours of the next morning, alone in the dark, I started the short walk from house to beach guided only by dim lights above the boardwalk. It was eerily quiet at that hour with just the rustling sound of trees in the breeze and the muffled crash of waves in the distance. As I approached the boardwalk to make my way onto the beach through an opening in the weathered sand-fencing I assumed I would be alone. I was not.
An older couple wearing t-shirts and shorts made their way in the dark. Holding hands, they passed through the opening in the fence and shuffled slowly through the cool sand. Behind them, a woman draped in cameras with lenses of various lengths stopped to remove her shoes before stepping off the boardwalk and onto the beach. Just after her came an elderly man carrying a tiny dog on his arms. Together, silently in the darkness, we walked towards the water.
Already on the beach were three young girls huddled together on a large towel. Sitting cross-legged in over-sized sweatshirts, they faced the water saying nothing. Near them, two men in baseball caps sipped coffee and stared towards the horizon. Even with such an expanse of empty beach available we gravitated towards one another. No one spoke.
Out on the horizon, the palest of pinks began to push away some of the blackness.
We turned to face the faint light. As if a few feet would make a difference in the millions of miles that separated us, we all drifted a bit closer to the water in the direction of the already brighter pink sky. In that first light I noticed we had not been alone. Standing along the higher edges of the beach, together in the soft sand by the dunes, were seagulls by the hundreds. They made no sound as the bright pink horizon turned a pale orange.
The pale orange became bright orange as the sky overhead traded blackness for gray-blue. The bright orange quickly morphed to an even brighter orange. Almost immediately it was red and then instantly a fiery pinpoint of brightness gave way to the blinding glow of the rising sun.
Cameras clicked to the left, someone caught their breath to the right, but no one spoke.
The fiery ball moved rapidly above the horizon while we watched. As if on cue, hundreds of still silent seagulls lifted from the sand as one and floated towards and then over the waves. They passed between us and the perfect fiery circle that now hovered completely above the horizon.
Again, cameras clicked to the left, someone caught their breath to the right, but no one spoke.
The sky overhead was now a pale blue. We watched the still bright circle lose some of its fire and changed to a yellowish-orange. Reluctant to leave, we stared over the water a little more, smiled at each other, then made our way across the sand and back up to the boardwalk. No one spoke.
None of us had met before nor are we likely to meet again. In all of the days leading up to that morning we had carried on with our own lives unaware that the others existed. It’s even possible that not one of us had a single thing in common with another, but for a few minutes we were completely bound together in silent darkness as we waited by the ocean for a beautiful ball of light.
I was behind the elderly man with the little dog as our group, still silent, plodded up the beach and back onto the boardwalk. On a bench by the opening in the snow-fence two women ate donuts and loudly discussed their plans for the day. Obviously shocked when our group appeared from behind a clump of seagrass to file through the opening in the fence, they stopped talking, held their donuts at their mouths, and stared.
“Where did you come from?” one woman finally said laughing. She bit her donut.
“Church.” the elderly man said.
“Church?” the woman asked, puzzled.
Several in our group paused to listen to this interaction.
“Yep.” the elderly man explained. “Sunrise service.”
I wondered about possible reactions from others in our impromptu group, whether they might disagree, take offense even, but with smiles on their faces they nodded and moved along to start the day.
No one spoke.
Stuart M. Perkins
325 responses to “No One Spoke”
Lovely. Left me with chills. Looking forward to following your blog!
I have one large grin on my face right now 🙂
Thanks for sharing this stroy with us.
Beautifully written, and I respect your appreciation for nature’s church!
I look forward to more. Thank you!
Reblogged this on Adult Flavored Chaos and commented:
In the chaos of getting ready for school, ( min and the kids) and everything that is happening, this was a nice little brain oasis.
It felt like a sacred morning. Not to be wasted in bed.
Love the ‘Sunrise Service’ line; I think we’re nowhere closer to God than when we take time to be in Nature.
We spend too much time around what man has made (cell phones, TVs, autos, etc.) We need to spend more time with what God has made. His creation, not ours.
I completely agree, “we only get so many sunrises in a lifetime.” I like the way the author, Bob Goff put it once. He basically said that such experiences are love letters from God. It seems a shame not to open them. Thanks for the reminder. Audrey
There are many times this has happened with my husband and I. We LOVE going to the beach! We sit, look at the sky and wait for the colors to change and listen to the rocks clatter as the tide makes it way in, then out. I love your writing. It brings back photographs in my mind and reminds me just how precious our surroundings can be. Thank you for sharing!
Is this story true? If it is I’m both jealous and in awe. Jealous because this is an experience that I’ve only imagined as passing thoughts, in awe because of the way you told the story it was like I was there! Perfect! :’>
Oh yes, very true. A morning just this summer. I appreciate that compliment!
I’ve saved your blog post to my computer haha anyway
I nominated you for the #GSList tag I hope you can give it a go 🙂
Here’s my post with the info https://haruzuzu.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/gslist/
This was such an enriching description ♡. Simply beautiful.
I felt like I was there. And that last comment was perfect.
Wow. So beautiful! I wish you had pictures to share…
Beautiful. Thank you 🙂
I now must watch a sunrise by the beach,…i felt like I was there.I like That you said ” we only have so many sunrises”. Beautiful
Such amazing writing! I genuinely felt like I was right there with you. Thank you for sharing!
such a beautifully written post! sunrises are definetley worth getting up for ( or not going to sleep for haha!)
I wish more people understood the wonder and awe of such.
Reblogged this on Seaton United Reformed Church.
Reblogged this on tenderandstrong.
Beautifully written…I could see and feel the sunrise. Namaste!
There was a communion!
Awesome!! So beautifully written that I felt I was walking on the beach too!! And to think of where all a simple moment in you life can take you!
That’s God way of saying the darkness won’t last and when you think your alone to enjoy something memorable your not even his other creatures join
The best time of day to touch the heart of God
great moment captured in greater detail!
I could picture myself as one of those silent watchers. Your words put me right there experiencing every second of a beautiful sunrise. Thanks.
The wonder of nature never lets us down such an easy way to share how Gods love does the same.
I don’t know how but I want to read all of your posts!! This is a such a beautiful story!!
I LOVE IT
Stuart, may have your permission to reblog this on my site, The Fruitful Life? I’ve been saving it and would like to send it up today or tomorrow. And if I may, do you have a “reblog” link or button? How do I go about it?
Thanks for such a vivid description. Photos of sunrises and sunsets all over the internet can become cliche but your story does this sunrise justice! To God be glory!
Sure you can reblog it, I’d be flattered! Sorry though, I don’t think I have a reblog button? But I know I’ve been reblogged before and when I look at their site somehow they’ve linked it so if my blog name is clicked people can go there… but I’m ashamed to say it’s over my head… I appreciate that you enjoyed the post!
Thanks for answering and sorry it took me the rest of the day to get back. It was hairy out there today!
I think I can create a link using the url for the post and insert that into my “comment.” I will certainly give you credit. Since the first post I read on your blog about riding a bus, I’ve been a ‘follower.’ I’ve spent a lot of time on buses. Have a great evening and a wonderful Thanksgiving.
(Perhaps you’ll get a story out of it!)
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i’m not a morning person. having said that, i have made few attempts in the past to get up extra early just to catch the sunrise. i must say, personally, i think sunrises are way more beautiful than sunsets. you just don’t get that many hues of color, pastel as they maybe, during sunsets.
Such a sensitive and beautiful way to describe this experience. Thank you for sharing it with us!
Absolutely the best time of the day. My mother and I make the trek to the Nubble lighthouse in York Maine for sunrise service whenever I visit. You painted the experience perfectly. Thank you!
Lovely story! Thanks for sharing.