Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Windows with a View - Virginia Beach, VA


Welcome to a view from the sixth floor of a hotel in Virginia Beach. Join me as we gaze out upon a sea that is as old as time itself. Sand and sea come together along the tenuous shoreline, creating a lovely picture that is ever-changing. And yet, there is permanence to the scene that is also comforting.

First of all, I’ll describe the basics: a wide, sandy beach stretches from the boardwalk to the Atlantic Ocean. The city has worked hard to reclaim what had once deteriorated to a narrow band of beach. The system they installed has been successful at enlarging and protecting this fine beach. In fact, it can seem quite a trek trudging through the sand to get to the water’s edge, but that’s a good thing and I won’t complain. The picture shows an empty beach – not something you’ll see in the summer.

The boardwalk sits just below my window, a wide concrete walkway and bike path that spreads out nearly three-miles along the oceanfront. Quirky sculptures, palm trees, and sea grasses add to the attractive scene. Even in the chill of autumn, joggers, walkers, bikers, and the frequent “dog straining at the leash nearly pulling its owner’s arm from socket,” are fun to watch from my cozy digs.

If I stand on the balcony, I can look down the beach to the right and see a 26-foot bronze statue of King Neptune beside the boardwalk at 31st Street. It’s a grand statue, depicting the upper half of the mighty man, rising from the sea with a javelin in one hand and a giant sea turtle in the other hand.

Looking to the left after dark, I see tiny lights twinkle in the distance, spreading across the edge of the dark ocean like white diamond chips. This is the 17-mile engineering marvel called the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, linking Virginia Beach with the Eastern Shore.

Along the distant horizon of the ocean, I see many ships crossing the water – just as they have for centuries. Cargo ships from distant lands, naval vessels – including an aircraft carrier, and pleasure craft, float across my vision. The largest Naval Base in the world lies off to the left in Norfolk, along with huge commercial ports that load and off-load goods as fast as machinery and men can move.

One day I sight a three-masted sailing ship in the distance silhouetted against that light blue area where ocean meets sky. I imagine how unchanged this view is from 400 years ago when, in 1607, three such wooden ships sailed across that very same horizon on their way to Cape Henry. Only a few miles down Atlantic Avenue, a large cross at Cape Henry marks the spot where the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery brought the first settlers to our shores.

A window provides a living picture of one little corner of the world in which we live. We consider a “Room with a View” to be a special place because that living picture is either beautiful, or interesting, or in some way provokes our imagination. It also changes with seasons, weather, and even time of day. These windows to the world can also become windows to the soul. Pondering the world in front of our eyes, can throw light on the world within ourselves.

When we arrived at Virginia Beach in early November, the effects of Hurricane Noel were being felt. Winds that nearly knocked my feet from under me gusted along the boardwalk. I gazed out from the safety and warmth of my room and watched the mighty display. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

“The Atlantic Ocean churns with all the power that only God can stir up within the ocean’s depth. White froth rolls in wave on top of wave, grabbing at the shoreline like a hungry beast. Far out into the ocean, along the horizon, curly ribbons of white break the dark gray-green surface. The restlessness of this vast sea of water is caused by the passing of Hurricane Noel – hundreds of miles to the east of this pounding surf.”

As is often the case, my vision turned to introspection and I wrote: “Thoughts of the distant hurricane remind me of how far-reaching can be the influence – not only of a powerful storm – but, also of the way a person lives his/her life. In this shrinking world in which we live, our words, actions, inactions, and life, can influence people near and far. We can encourage roaring surf or calm, healing waters. What sort of influence do you have on the world around you?”

I am reminded of the verse in Psalm 93:4: “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

Here's another great verse that captures the moment also -- Ps. 33:6-8 “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap; he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him."

Helpful Info:
My “Room with A View” was #604 at the Four Sails on 33rd Street and Atlantic Avenue. This article is not meant for advertising purposes, but if you want to enjoy a similar view of the Atlantic Ocean and the many enjoyable activities in Virginia Beach, call 1-800-822-3224 or visit vbfun.com for more information. Virginia Beach is truly a great place to visit, with lots to offer and beautiful scenery.
--Photo credit: Sandra

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