The wind brushed softly through the palm trees as the waves lapped against the white sandy shore. The moon shone brightly, nearly full, surrounded by softer rings, casting its shadow of light across the darkened waters. The night seemed surreal. The stars twinkled deeply in the velvet sky. The scene blurred and focused again. She blinked her eyes and let the tears roll down.

"What's wrong?" Chrissy asked.

"Look." Jen answered pointing to the horizon.

"I don't see anything."

"That's just the point. They're not back yet. They should have been here days ago and still no sign of them." Jen whimpered.

"You have to be patient. Not everything follows a schedule."

Jen spun and stared at Chrissy. "You don't understand. You don't realize how much this really matters. You don't care."

"You are being ridiculous." Chrissy commented rolling her eyes. She left Jen alone on the balcony.

"When will you return?" she pleaded into the night, watching the waves deepen. Back in the room she slid out of her robe and into bed, drifting off into a restless sleep.

Early the next morning Jen wandered along the beach. "Only three more days," she whispered to herself. She had come all this way, all her hopes pinned on this, and now it seemed she would be disappointed.

Staring alternately at her feet in the sand and the ocean she didn't notice the man with the binoculars until she bumped into him.

"Oh excuse me," she stammered visibly discomfited.

"No problem." He muttered halfheartedly as he resumed his surveying of the horizon.

She continued her tryst at the shoreline but for the first time in days felt distracted from her purpose. That man had interrupted her thoughts, her movements and now he was in her head. "Strange." She commented to herself. "Why now?"

She stopped and looked back at him. He was still exploring the ocean horizon. She turned and went back. "Excuse me."

"Yes?" he asked finally facing her.

"I was wondering, if perhaps, you could tell me what you see?" she stammered. "I've been waiting and watching for," she didn't finish her sentence, almost embarrassed remembering Chrissy's comments about her being ridiculous.

"I see nothing but a line where the sea meets the sky." He commented, his voice sad, soft and sweet. He resumed his gazing at the ocean. "The waves come together and break apart, like lovers in the night. The sky is dancing with colors of a new day, full of hope, full of promise, yet empty, the horizon unbroken."

"Wow." She breathed. "That's so sad, and beautiful. What are you hoping to see?"

"Life, filled with hope, the promise of the future, and the memory of the past. The cycle unbroken. Fearful. Formidable. Fantastic. Vague colors blending, gliding together in a dance choreographed by nature and time and life. Silver reflecting the golden sun, breaking the shadows, not casting them, changing the course of the waves, creating the waves, affirming tomorrow's. I'm searching for faith."

She stood staring at him, tears in her eyes and gasped, "and, have you seen it? Are they back?"

Gradually he lowered the binoculars from his eyes and stared into hers. "You understand." He breathed in disbelief.

"Yes" was her whispered reply. "I do, I've been waiting for the same thing." Her eyes drifted back to the ocean horizon and gazed hopefully. "Waiting, watching, hoping and praying. There is so much beauty here. Golden skies, silver shadows, balmy tender breezes dancing through swaying leaves, sand that has known a thousand more times and beings than I will ever hope to know, made soft by harshness, purified by sun and time. Ever changing yet always the same. Crystal waters, hiding nothing, yet keeping a million secrets. Inviting, exciting, alive, but intimidating, dreadful, and dangerous. All this beauty is nothing to me while the emptiness remains. What else matters? If they don't come, what does that mean? Have we lost this too? Is there no hope?"

"Wait with me, keep watch with me."

They stood side-by-side watching and waiting. Tourist arrived at the beach setting up their blankets and chairs, enjoying the sunshine and clear skies. Children ran and laughed and splashed in the salty water. Scores of people filled the space and they remained, standing, watching and waiting.

"Dr. Hanson?" a young man approached him. "We're ready."

"Doctor?" she asked.

"Yes," he smiled. "I'm a scientist. I'm here to, well, you already know that. I'm sorry, I should have introduced myself, but I felt as if we knew each other and I guess I forgot. I'm Joe. Dr. Joseph Hanson, Marine Biologist."

"I'm Jen." She put out her hand and he took it, but didn't let go.

"Come with me, let's go find them together. My craft and crew are waiting."

They hurried along to the vessel and quickly began their expedition. "I have hope again." Jen commented. "I'm beginning to believe again."

Joe understood the depth of her comment. "As am I." He waited to be sure he had conveyed his meaning before setting off to work.

She took the binoculars and watched the waters until she saw them. She let out a loud whoop and delighted laugh at the first appearance of the Northern Pacific Humpback. "They're here!" she cried out.

The crew began scurrying around but Joe ran to her hugging her and swinging her through the air. When he set her down again she caught her breath and pointed out to the waters. "Look. They truly are more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I feel like this is the answer to a lifetime of questions."

"It is." He confirmed. "It's the promise of tomorrow, the memory of the past and the joy of today."

"You understand." Her face glowed.

"I do. And today I've discovered more than what I thought I was looking for. Today I found the hope for my future too."