Martin Copenhaver: Mystery in the Sand

"The heavens are telling the glory of God."  from Psalm 19

I have just come back from a long walk on a secluded beach that, unbelievably, is only about 50 miles from Manhattan, as the crow flies (a funny expression, now that I think of it, because there are no crows here, only the occasional seagull).  I have walked on this beach countless times because I have come here since I was a boy.

In many ways my walk was idyllic.  The sun, which had been brutal earlier in the day, was taking a final bow over the dunes.  The waves seemed to be relaxing a bit after a long day of continuous exercise.  And, yes, since this is a true story (all my stories are true) I should also add there were black flies biting at my ankles almost the whole time.

Then I encountered something of a mystery.  Every so often there were little arrows written in the sand, sometimes a whole series of them.  Some pointed to the sunset over the dunes.  Others seemed to be calling my attention to the surf.  Obviously, someone was bidding me to pay attention, eager for me not to miss the grandeur of the scene.  I looked up and down the beach to see if I could figure out who had left these markers, but there was no one for hundreds of yards in either direction.

I continued to ponder the mystery until I came across a seagull, who walked toward the water when she saw me coming and - you guessed it - she left little arrows in the sand as she walked (with her... what?  Toes?  Talons?  What do you call them?  Clearly I am not a naturalist.).  Anyway, her feet left little trident arrows wherever she walked, calling me to attention.

I thought, "The heavens are telling the glory of God."  And so are the seagulls.


God, if it is true that prayer is paying attention, call me to attention in any way you choose.

Taken with permission from the UCC StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit