Ever been to White Sands National Monument? It really is a magical and inspiring place. The solitude that you can experience there is so soothing and the grandeur of the skies can set your soul soaring.
I first took my wife there in 2002. She is from Connecticut originally and had never seen anything like it before that was not near the ocean. Our son and daughter were 5 and 2 at the time. We paid our fee at the visitor’s entrance and headed out towards the dune field. As we passed the first couple of spots near the edge of the dunes where people were out playing my wife asked if those weren’t good places to stop. I knew that the road would eventually get out into the dunes proper and make a loop where there would be many opportunities to stop. As I continued to pass other locations my wife asked again if they weren’t also good places to pull over. I drove on, not knowing for sure what I was looking for other than as few people as possible.
Eventually I found a spot that seemed a good one. We all got out and gathered up our things that we had brought along. The kids had their shovels and pails and other toys to play with. I had my camera with me as I was going to wander for a while getting some shots. We clambered up to the top of the dune and my wife was ready to plunk down there, but I continued on down the other side and up the next dune. Arriving there it felt like a good spot for them to enjoy.
After letting the kids settle in and taking in the vistas for a while I gave my wife a kiss and headed down the far side of our dune. Near the bottom I stopped and turned to say something and was thunderstruck. I chuckled and called to my wife to come down to where I was standing. She started straight down towards me and I motioned for her to take a wider path. When she arrived at my side I motioned for her to turn and look back up the dune. Someone had spelled out a name in the sand… it was Regina. That is my wife’s name.
We smiled and hugged and laughed about what we were seeing and then I went on my way. I didn’t even take a picture. It just didn’t seem necessary, and in some ways I’m glad I didn’t.
I am not one to go around looking for signs and omens in my life to explain things that I don’t like, understand or can’t find comprehension in. So at that moment, the real weight of meaning in this message was only slowly working its way into my understanding. Over the coming days it began to take hold though. Why had I found my way to that spot that day with such apparent focus?
This was not my first marriage, I had had two previous failed ones, no other children, and I harbored doubts about my ability to maintain a stable relationship. I have come to the realization that God assuredly had his hand on my shoulder guiding me to that spot. He wanted me to know that here I was safe, Regina was safe, Nathan and Abby were safe. We were each where we were supposed to be guarding each other’s hearts. And I have held that knowledge close ever since and given thanks to God each day.
(Originally published June 10, 2016)