About six days into our vacation I realize the jaw pain is gone.
I’m sitting on a lounge chair, the palms blowing gently in the breeze. When I close my eyes, the rustling fronds sound like rain drops gently hitting cement. When I open them, I see blue sky, the sun blazing a strobe light of gemstones on the bay. A pelican glides in a figure eight, circling once, then twice, low over the water before arcing gracefully onto a mangrove bough.
I rest my book face down on the plastic table and wiggle my jaw back and forth from left to right. It’s true. The pain is gone. Every day for the last year I’ve awoken with a headache and stiffness in my jaw from clenching my teeth during the night. The dentist tells me she sees wear on my molars. After months of procrastination, I finally make an appointment to be fitted for a mouth guard after the first of the year.
And now, in the lounge chair, with a book in my lap and the salty breeze in my hair and two boys and their dad splitting coconuts at my feet, the pain is gone.
The iguana shakes his jowls, the tangerine skin like a scarf around his neck. He’s poised regal and prehistoric in the mangrove, surrounded by an entourage of pelicans and anhingas.
A motorboat hums in the distance. Hand shielding my eyes from the glare, I glimpse a boat trolling for barracuda across the bay.
The bikes at the rental shop wear red bows for Christmas. The palms fan their fronds like umbrellas. Noah swings, facing the sea.
Brad wrestles with the coconut husk, first with a hammer, then with a branch clipper, prying back brittle brown while the boys sit quietly on the hot cement, chins on knees. The outer shell discarded in shreds on the grass, he takes a saw to the inner nut, slicing it clean in two.
Coconut milk runs clear from a crack onto the pavement.
Noah drinks right from the shell, juice dripping down his cheek and onto his shirt. He holds the nut out for me to see – a core of pure white flesh encased deep in tough husk, like a pearl.
Every now and then I forget that God is always here, with us. Because sometimes it’s harder to see him, when children are shot and teachers die brave and news of a diagnosis literally takes your breath away. I need these days, reminders, when his presence is so obvious, it’s like a billboard on every corner. I need these days when it seems downright silly that I ever doubted.
The boys sit cross-legged in the grass, bowls of sliced coconut balanced in their laps while the iguana suns at the water’s edge, soaking up the last of the afternoon warmth. A pelican flaps his wings against the water, a sound like the soles of two tennis shoes clapped together, chunks of dried mud scattering into the backyard.
I close my eyes and feel the sun on my face.
For ever since the earth was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God has made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20, NLT)