Dune Grass

Sand dunes grow. They are a complex, living infrastructure of sand, water, vegetation, and wind. Along the Outer Banks, the dunes protect the inner parts of the island from the encroaching seas. We boast of having the largest sand dune on the East Coast here in Nags Head, called Jockey’s Ridge. This massive, moving dune is so big, it has swallowed up a mini-golf course in its eastward trajectory.

The Outer Banks has recently undergone extensive beach nourishment along our coastline. Erosion, seas and winds have threatened our beaches for decades, and so our towns have responded with a nourishment program that effectively extended the beach by pumping off-shore sand onto the shoreline.

The Baby Dune effort then began in hopes of stabilizing the protective dunes. Baby dunes are intentionally planted with vegetation such as sea oats, hearty grasses, and dense patches of dune mats that take root and hold the dune together. If the vegetation is damaged, the dune will fail, the water will breach, and roads and homes are affected.

The most threatening thing to baby dune growth is people. People ignore the “Keep Off” signs and walk over the dune rather than go a few hundred yards away to a groomed beach access. Beach goers, not wind, are the biggest threat to the stability of this fragile ecosystem.

Colossians 2 (The Message)

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You have received Christ Jesus, the Master. Now LIVE him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start LIVING it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.

This passage talks about taking root in Christ. One of the interesting things about the dune grasses and vegetation mats is that their roots aren’t exceptionally deep, but they spread over the top of the dune and provide anchoring to the top layer of sand. Their extensive system of creeping underground stems keeps the dune intact in the winds.

Much in the same way, rooting ourselves in Christ protects our lives and keeps us intact when the winds of change begin to blow hard. In the midst of adversities, when in the blink of an eye something changes, those matted, secure roots of faith, fellowship, meditation, prayer, worship, and scripture reading can provide resistance.

A friend suddenly lost her mother last week. The death was unexpected and has caught the family terribly off guard. As she is slowly negotiating her new reality, it is her roots in Christ and the interconnected family around her that is keeping her together right now. Another friend is struggling with her spouse’s addiction. The vegetation mat of hope, help, and knowing she is not alone is keeping her strong in her storm.

I don’t know what kind of figurative or literal (!) hurricane you are going through this morning, but hear this: you are meant to just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You are meant to receive all that Christ died to give you. You are well constructed on him, and no wind of change, no matter how strong, is going to blow you over. Now do what you’ve been taught! Stay strong, stand firm, and let your living spill over into thanksgiving, even in the storm. God’s got you…and he will never let go.

Photo by Kathy Schumacher.

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