White Sands, Sunsets, and Drum Circles

Today, we flew home from a few days respite in Florida. Three of our four kids live there as well as all but one of our grandchildren. It wasn’t the warmest of trips, but seeing our entire tribe together was heartwarming enough to make the temperatures endurable.

While there, we visited the sands of Siesta Key Beach. They tell me it’s currently rated number one in the United States. I don’t know a lot about beaches, so I’ll take their word for it. It’s wide, white, and easy to trod. I suppose each of those traits figures into the equation.

Every Sunday evening, the beach is the site of an event called the “Drum Circle.” They’ve been doing this as long as I’ve been making the trek to the Sarasota area. If you’re ever there, check it out. It’s a sight to behold.

“The drums cut through the twilight air…”

As we pulled into the parking lot, we could hear the drums beating out a familiar, primitive beat. (Apparently they only know one song, and they’ve been playing it for years.) They were quite a distance from us, but the drums cut through the twilight air like a rocket through the thin atmosphere of space.

As we marched over the sand, we could see the massive throng of people surrounding the drummers. The closer we got, the more we could make out the unique individuals that made up the human conglomeration. There were belly dancers, baton twirlers, tightrope walkers, acrobats, hula-hoopers, and a couple of conga lines. There was also one scantily clad guy who appeared to be some sort of witch doctor doing his dance of healing. I didn’t see any sick people, but his gyrations continued.

We had come primarily to see the sunset (which was gorgeous as always), but as usual, the people stole the show (at least for me). I believe the Lord creates each sunset, but humanity is the pinnacle of his creation. People-watching is the best thing ever.

“For a couple of hours, the drumbeats of their lives were the same.”

Viewing this multitude of Homo Sapiens dancing, swaying, and performing to the same beat is always fascinating. We’re all from the same family, but we’re so different from each other. It never ceases to amaze me just how great the differences can be. Not only do we look different, we act differently and undoubtedly think differently as well. Seeing that mass of dissimilarities melding together in that one, peaceful place is almost hopeful.

I say hopeful, because most of these folks probably don’t even know each other. If they were in a different setting together, they might not even get along. Yet, here they were—together and harmonious. For a couple of hours, the drumbeats of their lives were the same

Despite our differences, the one thing that’s the same is that we’re all sinners. Still, the one who created us came and died that we might live. Now, that is a drumbeat that could bring us together—forever. That’s the one hope that reigns supreme in my differentiated heart.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

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