Sharla Dawn Gorder

Writer – Speaker

Buy The Book HERE

© Jem Sullivan

You might call it coincidence, intuition, or even wishful—or magical—thinking.

            The scientifically inclined among you might attribute it to synchronicity, “The Law of Truly Large Numbers” or (if you wanna get really fancy) the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.  The more religiously or mystically attuned might call it a small miracle, a manifestation, or an answer to prayer.

            I call it freaky.   

            We’ve all been there.  You’re in the kitchen foraging for a snack when a long-lost friend crosses your mind—just as your phone pings.  You’re driving down I-10 thinking about pancakes, and a billboard advertising the same flashes by.  Or you almost run over a toad in the road while—on the radio—Three Dog Night waxes philosophical about Jeremiah. (He was a good friend of mine.)  And for a week every station seems to be playing an inordinate number of frog songs.  Ha!   

            I was walking the beach at dawn last Friday, as I always do, and singing, as I often do.  I’ve developed a fun habit of learning song lyrics or inspiring literary passages as I walk.  I’ll pull them up on my phone, or even print them out, and practice them as the sun rises. 

            Years ago, when I first started my walks at dawn, I had to, of course, revisit George Harrison’s, “Here comes the Sun.”  Every time I sang the words, “It’s all right,” it felt like prophecy for the day ahead of me. 

            Last winter I was drawn to an old Upanishadic chant—The Pavamana Mantra.  It took me a whole week to learn four lines—as the prayer is written in Sanskrit. The second line, translated—“Lead me from darkness to light”—is  such a lovely concept to ponder as I walk at dawn. The beach, literally, goes from darkness to light right before my eyes.

            In the spring, I couldn’t get Cat Stevens out of my head every time the sun “broke” the horizon line.  I looked up the lyrics to “Morning Has Broken” in an old Methodist hymnal I had.  Mine is the sunrise, mine is morning…

            This piqued my interest in the old hymns of my childhood—particularly the verses we rarely got around to in church. I learned, “This is My Father’s World,” “In the Garden,” and “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”—Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; Drive the dark of doubt away; Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.   

            Last Friday, as I walked, a song that had been banging around in my head for a week, finally made it to my voice, a song we sang at Bible study when I was a young teenager—”Just as I Am.” 

            Oh, how I have always longed to be “okay” just as I am.  It is a constant struggle for me.  (About ten years ago I adopted an Ingrid Michaelson song—”Be OK”—as my personal anthem: “I just wanna be OK today.”) “Just as I Am” takes this longing to a whole new level.  Every stanza of this beautiful song begins with those words—Just as I am—and ends with these:  O lamb of God, I come, I come

            I was finishing my walk and heading back up the beach toward the house—still singing—when I noticed something too white to be a shell in the sand; I had almost stepped on it. 

            O, lamb of God…And behold!  There in the sand by my big toe, as I sang the word “lamb,” was a tiny pink and white child’s toy, a lamb, barely an inch tall.  What are the odds?

            Well, it depends on how you look at it I, guess. Walt Whitman wrote “The sidewalks are littered with postcards from God.” Perhaps, similarly, the beach abounds with “Godwinks,” uncanny messages of assurance or insight.

            I like the image the term “Godwink” conjures in my mind.  Winking is such a playful thing, mischievous almost.  Imagining God—the Awesome and Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth and sunrises and seashells and bullfrogs and lambs—winking at me calms me down a bit.  Some of those other methods of communication God seemed fond of—commandments on stone tablets, blazing bushes on Mount Horeb, or even that talking donkey in the Book of Numbers—well all of those seem a little scary to me. 

            But a wink!  A wink is fun.  It even feels a little flattering.

            So, I think I’ve settled on Godwink for this one.   You can attribute it to coincidence, synchronicity, or even the Law of Truly Large Numbers if you want—but when was the last time you stepped on a lamb on the beach?

Follow me on Instagram or Facebook (@sharladawnstoryteller) for images and musings from the beach at dawn.  Also, pick up a copy of Island Times from any of a dozen or more Pensacola Beach shops and restaurants—enjoy my column—Sharla Dawn at Dawn.  

“Vices” is now available on Kindle and other eReaders for just 5.99.  You even have the option of “gifting” the digital version by clicking the “Give as a Gift” on and entering the email address of the recipient.  Of course, the paper version (still my preference) is available at the buy-three-get-one-free rate from this website (Shop)

Books are also available from all these gracious local retailers:

At the beach:
         Geronimo’s Outpost

          69 Via DeLuna Dr.
          Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
          (850) 435-9555

In Gulf Breeze:
          832 Gulf Breeze Parkway
          (Publix shopping center)
          Gulf Breeze, FL  32561
          (850) 934-3436

In East Hill:
Angel’s Garden         

         1208 N. 12th Ave.
         Pensacola, FL 32503
         (850) 435-9555

Mall area:
Miles Galleries

           (at the front register)
           5109 Bayou Blvd.
           Pensacola, FL  32503
           (850) 607-6560

At Seaside:
         Sundog Books

         89 Central Square
         Santa Rosa Beach, FL  32549
         (850) 231-5481

In Fairhope:
        Page and Palette

        32 S. Secton Street
        Fairhope, AL  36532
        (251) 928-5295


Here’s the link to the featured photo of “Jesus winking.”


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