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A single grain of sand is tiny, barely visible, but a beach is impressive. Who knows how long the sand has been pushed in and out by the endless cycle of the tide, choreographed by the the rotation of the moon around the earth.

As I stare at the beautiful long, wide strip of beach in St. Andrews, Scotland, I think of the footsteps that it has felt over the centuries, for there have been people living there for over 1200 years (as far as documented history can trace them). Many livelihoods were drawn from the sea over centuries, with women and children daily cleaning and preparing fish for market, in large open areas near the Cathedral, in all kinds of weather. Minds were being trained at the University since 1411, and a good- sized, busy town grew up around them. Until the Reformation, pilgrims regularly came to the town where the relics of St. Andrew were displayed, adding to the bustle.

All these people of different classes, from different countries, in a town bordered by beach on the east and the west, with a cliff face on the north side. The relentless, endlessness of the sea is always making its superiority known as it strikes the rocky cliffs and gathers and grinds sand to deposit on the beaches.

Century after century, lives have come and gone, some violently in storms at sea, others, quietly in their beds. Like the earth it calls home, the cycle continues. The sea is something like eternity. It is strong and commanding, yet generous and beautiful. It was there before people came, and it will be there long after — well, perhaps forever, however long that is.

To me, that’s a confirmation of eternity. I am but a grain of sand in the stream of life, and that’s okay with me. Like the grains of sand on that faraway beach, I’m part of the greater whole and always will be.