Reminders from a Sand Dune

My wife and I took a trip to the Kelso Sand Dunes recently.  The Kelso Dunes are one of only about 30 places in the world with “booming sands”.  It’s an odd phenomenon where the sand is the perfect size, shape, polish, and humidity to create vibrations that are actually audible when they knock into each other and the hard palette beneath.  You can hear a very low hum during even small avalanches.

I saw a short documentary on booming sands a while ago.  It talked about some grad students that were researching the cause of sound, and they discovered that the best way to generate the sound themselves was to sit on the sand and slide down the dunes, creating an avalanche with their rear ends.  So we were all set to do this when we got to the dunes so that we could hear the music.

We immediately ran into a few problems, the biggest of which being that it is really hard to hike up sand!  We only made it about a third of the way up before we decided we weren’t in shape enough to make it.  So we figured that we’d try it where we were at.  We were on top of a ridge; maybe the avalanche we could create there would be enough.  So we slid down but heard nothing.

Tired, we sat behind the ridge and watched the landscape for a while.  And as we sat in the quiet, protected somewhat from the wind by the ridge behind us, the music played for us.  Just barely we heard it, a low humming like a turboprop airplane, the sound that we had hoped to find and generate for ourselves.

The thing that hit me a little later is that we didn’t create it ourselves.  We had set out to create this thing that we wanted, but even armed with the proper methods as determined by a group of scientists, we couldn’t make it happen.  Yet when we stopped trying to force what we wanted and were patient, God handed it to us.  “Cease striving,” is a rather accurate translation of the beginning of Psalm 46:10.  Stop trying to force what you think you want, “and know that I am God.”

On some deep level, we all believe to a greater or lesser extent that we must make sure that we get what we want or need ourselves.  We can’t rely on other people for everything.  Maybe some things, but not everything.  So we’re compelled to try to make sure we get those things – security, love (or various substitutes like adoration), relief from troubles like anxiety or boredom or pain.  We feel like if we don’t go after them, we won’t get them.  But our attempts to get them, just like our attempt to generate the booming sands, don’t quite work.  Or at least they don’t work enough.  But if we’re willing to wait and let God be God – the creator, physician, redeemer, healer, comforter, etc. – we may find that He will give us what we cannot generate for ourselves.  That doesn’t negate our work for what we need (it’s hard to eat when you don’t work to earn the cash for it!), but the end is in His hands, and we must allow Him the space to work His desire in us.

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