The Sea Caves of St. Martins

by | May 24, 2003 | Circumstances, Provision, Shelter, Stress, Surrender

On our way to the Fundy Trail near St. Martins, New Brunswick, we had the unique opportunity to explore some caves in the shoreline that had literally been carved out of sandstone by the Bay of Fundy tides. The low tide, which happened every thirteen hours or so, provided us with the only opportunity to discover this beautiful phenomenon, and we were astonished to learn that these caves, ever deepening, ever changing, and ever increasing in number, owed their entire existence to the extraordinary tides. Without them, this entire region might be completely unknown to tourists.

My only dilemma was that although the tide was low and we were able to walk way out onto the ocean floor, we were still separated from the caves by a small freshwater river. A St. Martian (an inhabitant of St. Martin) had thoughtfully provided a plank to make the crossing possible, but the makeshift wooden bridge had been used extensively and wasn’t exactly in prime condition. It was covered with brownish mud and greenish seaweed, and it sagged in the middle to the point that if you found yourself brave enough to attempt the crossing, river water would graciously wash the dust off of your feet!

Many tourists preferred to avoid this possible embarrassing crossing. After all, it was impossible for anyone to help you out, unless that unfortunate person already found himself bathing in the river! My family, consisting entirely of daredevils, scampered over like mountain goats. They did graciously offer their help before disappearing into the caves, but as I was carrying two cameras, and besides, I generally prefer to take baths by myself, I turned them down! Instead, I enjoyed walking along the length of the river!

When the “mountain goats” were all safely back in the van, we continued our trek until we arrived at the Fundy Trail, an eleven-kilometer parkway along the Bay providing a dozen lookouts and numerous trails, all designed for enjoying the breathtaking splendors of the region. Along this trail, we were able to admire the spectacular coastline with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waterfalls, gracious natural flower pots, and its intriguing foot suspension bridge.

At any time along the trail, we had the choice of walking along a footpath that ran along the coastline the entire length of the road. We decided to try this path when we arrived at the third lookout. My kids had found a sign directing us to a beach, and they couldn’t resist the temptation. As they, ever eager to reach their destination, disappeared from view, I found myself facing the rigors of crossing through the forest with only my wife to help. Many sections of our trail had an incline of close to 90 degrees, and were, quite naturally, covered with fresh mud. Yummy! Fortunately, someone had taken pity on the adult visitors and had provided ropes. I can assure you that I was clinging onto these!

And so it was that we eventually reached the beach where our sons were waiting for us. “What took you so long guys?” they asked.

“Oh, I was admiring the scenery!” I called out, then, muttering under my breath, I added: “All the while clinging for dear live onto every rope, branch and tree trunk I could find!”

To my dismay, there was a raging river separating us from the beach, our ultimate destination, and this time, there wasn’t even a slimy plank to make the crossing easier! My wife and oldest son scooted across as if it weren’t even there, but my younger son had more compassion. He found a crossover full of rocks and tree trunks, and leading me there, he proceeded to show me how to cross. I tried to follow his example, but the tree trunk under my feet started to rock! How would I ever reach the other side??? Before I knew it, my son came back for me. Reaching out with his hand, he brought me safely to the other side in one piece, and even with dry feet! Thanks to him I didn’t have to find myself traveling down the river, desperately clinging on a fallen tree trunk!

We enjoyed exploring this beach and even found another sea cave, one I could proudly explore myself, thanks to the one who had saved my life and dignity. On our way back, however, I found myself again in front of that raging river. And this time the path my family chose consisted of a few sparsely-spaced, moss-covered rocks!

I decided to display my courage to the world: “There is no way I can cross these!” I called out.

“Trust me, papa!” called out my youngest. “Take my hand!”

This time however, I’m afraid I helped HIM! We BOTH found ourselves in the river! Fortunately it was shallower and less wild than I had previously thought, and our only consequence was to have to slush through the rest of our day in water-filled shoes and slimy socks with our pants clinging to our legs. It is interesting to see how colours change when they are wet, and although I felt sorry for having drug my helper into the stream, we were doubled over with laughter about the entire incident.

My son reminds me of the sea caves of St. Martin. Just like I was unable to cross that raging river-okay, it was really a quiet stream!-safely by myself, these caves would never have been formed without the help of the Fundy tides. Often times we find ourselves in impossible dilemmas. Frustration mounts as all of our own attempts are met with failure. How welcome is help when it is offered!

I have learned that when I act independently and try to solve my problems on my own, failure greets me with open arms. Frustration and stress render my life miserable, and I feel as if I am drifting away in complete solitude, clinging desperately to bare tree trunks with no hope in sight. However, if I depend on the One who promised to always be there for me, all my life’s dilemmas are solved without my hair turning gray with worry.

He is faithful and He desires to help you. Accept His offer and take His hand. He will help you reach the shore safely with a warm welcome and deep inner peace. And also with dry feet!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:28-29 NIV)

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:18 NIV)

Rob Chaffart


The Sea Caves of St. Martins