I used to have something of a reputation as a hippy in high school. Fisherman’s pants, exotic beads, barefeet and colorful headbands were my constant attire. I’m smiling as I remember the days; it must’ve stopped when I came to uni for some reason..

But regardless, much of that was the legacy of a childhood brimming with holiday memories and experiences at Byron Bay.

Part of what I love most about Byron is its pace of life. Granted, it’s changed over the sixteen years I’ve been coming here, but there are some enduring commonalities.

The pace is one which values the savouring of experiences rather than efficiently experiencing them and adding the completed task to the things to relay to others to obtain their approval.

It’s so much more simple.

The day’s routine starts with walking to the lighthouse. I think starting the day being reminded of your physicality is actually really significant. It grounds you. It humbles you. It reiterates to your puffed up mind that you have limits, and needs. That you are the created, and whilst you may exercise your creative capacity throughout the day, you are not the creator.

The vastness of the ocean is the thing that grabs your heart at Cape Byron. It’s the most easterly point in Australia. The ocean just keeps on going. For the same reason, it’s also much nearer to the migration path of the whales. Every morning you will see them; this morning there were a good half dozen, fishing and playing.

There’s something remarkably good for the soul about just gazing out to the blue, with nothing but whale blowholes filling your mind.

Then there’s the incredible path that the sun’s light makes across the water. For me this is one of the potent metaphors of the human condition. Each human is but a drop in the ocean, a ripple on it’s surface. If water merely reflects itself, it offers nothing but a dull blue. But – oh, and what a caveat it is! – when the water reflects the brilliance of the sun’s light, I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that it participates in the majesty of the sun’s radiance.

The pace slows me down, and beckons me to notice and appreciate the finer details of everything. This morning when I was sketching a tree, I found myself not actually seeing the tree that was before me; I was rushing through and drawing a tree approximately like the one before me. I smiled at myself. I didn’t have to rush. I could soak in every line, every knot and every leaf of that tree. I could taste each moment for what it was.

Then there’s the beach. I sometimes think that feet were made for grass and dirt and sand. They are so much more in their element there than on concrete or other man made surfaces, shoved away into shoes.

There’s the faithfulness of the tide.

The beauty of deliciously creative flavours, like cuttlefish crumbed in chickpea and served with a side of raspberry yoghurt.

Of being so physically tired from walking into the endlessness of Belongil as the afternoon turns to dusk and the colours migrate from vibrant to metallic blue, the sand from brilliant whites and yellows to pinks and oranges.

This is what I said to a friend who asked me to explain what I meant by Byron being a ‘restoring’ place…

‘It has a pace of life which settles you into a rhythm of attention to detail and appreciation of the immediate.’

Reminders to live in the present are very much a necessity when you are disposed to zooming through everything for the sake of efficiency.

And I’m so thankful for the timeliness of this expression of God’s kindness to me.