The sun shined down from a vibrant, bright blue sky as cottony clouds floated in a light, cool breeze. Gazing at the perfect summer day that was starting to pass her by, Elaine Stephen decided that she and her three-year-old son must get outside! So, hopping in the car, they drove the few quick blocks to their community lake to bask outside in such a glorious day.
Elaine and her son often spent time at the lake, walking and playing along the shore several times a week. It was rare to see other people there; typically they spent their lake time alone with one another. So, it was of no surprise when they came upon a sand castle left without its builder. What was of surprise, however, was how amazing this particular sand castle was! It was the most intricately built sand castle that Elaine had ever seen. In fact, it was more like a medieval sand town—rows of small sand castles nestled against roads that traveled through tall, sand bridges. There was a moat carved into the sand, with lake water flowing through it. A drawbridge made of tree bark led to the largest castle of them all, sitting on a sand island entirely of its own. Duck feather flags beckoned from its turrets, their wispy feathers swaying gently in the breeze. The sand kingdom was so inspiring that Elaine felt as if she could almost see a prince and princess kissing in the big castle window, brave knights riding their horses to and fro across the medieval bridges, and townspeople hustling and bustling around on the sandy streets.
Oh, how Elaine wished she had brought a camera! She had always dreamed of entering the annual “Life in Our County” photo contest and just knew that a picture of this amazing scene would surely win. Such an amazing feat clearly showed the ability and creativity of the children in her mountain lake community, how they were able to use what was available in nature to create an entire play world instead of relying on store-bought toys. It was a truly fitting example of what life in the county is all about. Elaine briefly tossed around the idea of going home to get her camera, but she knew her young son would be confused by the sudden departure and be upset when he had to leave the lake so soon. So, they continued on, Elaine’s son babbling happily about butterflies and caterpillars and Elaine planning her return to the lake later in the day, camera in hand, to claim her award-winning photograph. With her son chatting away by her side, she thought about angles and lighting and how remarkably the image of the sand castle paid tribute to life in the county. This was going to be absolutely perfect … she could see it now.
A short while later, a grandmother and her grandson, who was a few years older than Elaine’s son, joined Elaine at the lakeside. Introducing themselves to one another, the women chatted and watched as the older boy engaged Elaine’s son in play almost instantaneously—no words of introduction needed there! The boys ran up and down the lakeside, splashing one another and laughing. Little by little, their games brought them closer and closer to the amazing sand castle village. Elaine was excited for the boy and his grandmother to see the sand kingdom, “How amazed they are going to be!” she thought to herself.
But, to Elaine’s horror, instead of admiring [the intricate sandcastle] in awe, [the young boy] began jumping and stamping on it, wiping every last bit away until it was grains of sand on the beach and nothing more.
Just then, the boy spotted the sand castles. But, to Elaine’s horror, instead of admiring it in awe, he began jumping and stamping on it, wiping every last bit away until it was grains of sand on the beach and nothing more. Elaine watched in terror, seething as he jumped and stomped. The boy’s grandmother took no notice of the atrocity at all! Elaine’s son even took part in the destruction, thinking it funny; he took the other boy’s lead and began jumping and stomping himself. Duck feathers and tree bark started drifting away in the lake and the sublime little village lay in ruins. Elaine felt her mouth open to scream her dismay at such a callous offense. Her beautiful image was gone.
Before the words could spring forth from her lips, Elaine clamped her mouth tight, biting her tongue. For as angry as she had been a short moment ago, she quickly realized that no calculated horrific injustice had actually taken place. Why should this young boy or his grandmother see that sand castle display as a work of art just because she did? How on Earth was that little boy to know that he had quite possibly just destroyed the winning scene from the “Life in Our County” photo contest? The children continued in their play, the grandmother continued chatting, and Elaine started thinking how much like life itself that sand castle creation had been. One minute it had been full of energy, and the next it was crushed under a heavy weight. Just as her photo dream had been. The thoughts drifted away and within a few minutes Elaine found herself reengaged in conversation with her lovely new acquaintance, keeping an eye on the two children who played so happily, and blissfully enjoying the beautiful afternoon. Soon, the sand castle was all but forgotten.
As she drove home from the lake a few hours later, Elaine thought of the sand castle once more and how it had been destroyed along with her dream of taking a prize-winning photo. As her mind went over the details of that fabulous sculpture yet again, she realized that what had mattered in the day was not the sand castle village, nor a possibly prize-winning photo. No, what mattered was that a young boy had instantly befriended her son. If this had not have happened her son, who is an only child, would have spent yet another day without a playmate. Instead he had a wonderful day with a new friend! What else had mattered was that the grandmother who had walked beside Elaine had instantly befriended her as well. Together, she and her son had made new friends and enjoyed the company of others, which was a rare thing at the lake. If not for a grandmother and her grandson, Elaine’s day would have been a little emptier than it turned out to be.
The five minutes of anger she had at the lake had passed. While Elaine did not enter a photo in the contest this year (there’s always next year!) she felt as if God had taught her 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.”
Elaine Stephens is a work at home mom who writes inspirational Christian stories and poems and sells inspirational gifts. She finds inspirational lessons in daily events and looks to show others that if we open our hearts, minds, and eyes, we will see our Lord’s presence and blessings in our everyday lives. You can find her writings and gifts online at (http://inspirationalgifts.blogspot.com/) and (http://storesonline.com/site/inspirationalgift).
Thank you Elaine, for sharing your Story with us.
Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.© 2009 by Tamar Burris and Story of My Life