Me and four young college women (Bethany, Lauren, Emily and Stephanie ... I tease that their initials spell BLES. And that I am BLES(sed) by their company. They laugh.)
We intersect in the campground at night at Padre Island National Seashore, as we amble to and from the washroom. I rarely see such young faces here amid this sea of beautiful winkles and luscious gray hair. But it's spring break up North, and these kids, well, really young women, drove south to celebrate, about 1,300 miles, from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, because one of them found this beach on Google.
Google didn't tell them only old people play here (and are in bed by 10.). The hipper, edgy crowd parties up at the county beach (Padre Balli Park beach), or down at South Padre Island, so I tell them, because I figure youth needs youth to refuel, to revive.
"But we don't want to be a part of that crowd," the taller one says. Her name is Stephanie. Because, they all explain in various ways, they embrace Christianity, and don't want to drink or party. So they came to this beach, a national seashore with no boardwalk, no hotels, no bars, (but lots of retirees) to enjoy nature and to get a tan. But the sun's not cooperating, so their plan is to pay for one at a local tanning booth tomorrow, before going home.
We laugh and talk. I tell them about my life as a Christian and how much I like to play with other Christians. And what we do to play. And I answer their questions about living in an RV for months, traveling with large dogs. And I tell them how most of us retirees had careers, like teaching, editing, writing, dentistry, bookselling, computer technology. And we talk marriage, God and friendship.
We soon wave goodnight and good-bye, and off they go.
The next day, I head into town to shop. And when I return, I receive such a surprise: A handwritten note from each of them, all on a sheet of notebook paper. With words like "thank you," "grateful," "fortunate," "blessing" and "love." And "Jesu Christ."
I cherish the note. Take a picture of it. Then just stare at it and smile. I am BLES(sed) indeed.