On warm nights, with the waves washing up against the sand, and stars sprinkled dusty across the sky, the rules are relaxed, and the beginnings and endings and edges of things run together. Walking along the water, you can pass unknowingly from one beach to another, across time and distance. The ribbon of shoreline ringing islands and continents is twisted up upon itself and winds unbroken across years and miles. Silently, you pass along the shorelines of India, of China, of Ireland and Australia. Past Columbus, moored just offshore in the darkness, the ripples lapping up against the wooden sides, waiting to explore a newly discovered world. Past battles and lovers and tragedies and victories and dinosaurs and pirates. Past father Adam and mother Eve discovering ocean sunsets and constellations yet unnamed. Slipping quietly onto any of the thousand million beaches of a thousand million years.
In the almost-darkness, I passed myself five years ago, walking with my closest friend. I almost caught a snatch of their conversation, that couple on a moonlit Florida beach, but I passed on, and they are different people now, and strangers.
I passed the sleeping dunes of a coast in Africa, still ringing with the voices of our daytime play, and for a moment I was back on holiday as a child. I felt the evening coolness, and the mysterious excitement of carried sleeping bags and limpets for bait as we set out to catch crayfish and sleep beneath the sky.
Back, back across the years, the shoreline stretched like memory beneath the feet of these almost-strangers, with beach below and God above unchanging companions on the walk, immune to the effects of time, helping to pull together the thread of continued experience that somehow adds up to me.