Monday, June 23, 2014

When The Pounding Storm Is In Your Soul

Still breathless from the climb, I gulp in air laced with ocean salt. 

The crashing crescendo that a large body of water makes, as it arrives from the edge of infinity, pierces all my senses. Rhythmic pounding, repeated over and over, as it rushes up against the great barrier reef.  

Gripping the twisted handrail to steady myself, I turn slowly to take in the full impact of my surroundings.

Below me, hangs, row upon row, of wind-weathered stairs, which creak and sway slightly with the rising island wind. With my free hand I press my stomach hard, as if I can push down the upheaval I’m feeling.

There, suspended over rocky crags that formed the island point, my heart pounds from the physical exertion it took to climb, coupled with my involuntary fear of heights.

Storm clouds build, on the dusty rose-colored horizon and blinding, sparkling, gems of light, bounce off the water. It was unspeakably vast, frightening, and beautiful all at the same time.

Never in my nineteen years had I seen anything like it. Fresh out of high school, I could not wait to leave my small town America and check, “world traveler,” off my short list, of things to do.

I had things to prove.

Young, idealistic, and fiercely independent, I was sure there were bigger and better things than, my simple country roots had experienced up to now. And to show I was serious about it all, I was traveling with people I didn't know, to a place I’d never heard of, to scuba dive in this deeply wild, remote location.

The resort was stunning, just as the brochure had promised. Huge talking parrots, with brilliant plumage hung out, on the wrap-around veranda, which encircled the main lodge of this thirty acre resort. Modern open air cabins were tucked into the landscape, dotted with flowering bushes and towering tropical trees, that draped overhead to keep us cool.

We feasted on fish caught daily and fresh lobster that our dive group gathered from lobster pots. Yet, as I had pushed bare feet into warm white sand, next to crystal clear, turquoise colored water, embracing what is described as paradise, I had never felt more unsettled.  

In fact I was disturbed.  

From this lofty perch overlooking the island, I could see them. Small huts, with grass thatched roofs, paneless windows, sitting on the edge of the resort. Extending from each simple dwelling, a long narrow pier led out to the water, to an outhouse.

The girl who cleaned my cabin, the one who was my same age, earned pennies a day and cast her eyes to the ground when I would try to speak to her. When we traveled off-site, to dive a nearby shipwreck, children tried to sell us birds and the village “grocery store” consisted of a dirt floor hut. The simple structure had walls lined with planks placed on brick, to form modest shelves, which held a few items to target non-locals.

My wild dreams of adventure and selfish ambition, were met with the harsh reality of poverty and the people that it imprisoned. Seeing it first hand, broke my heart for these beautiful ones I didn't know.

This place rich in beauty, was desperately poor. And now, hanging over the edge of such vastness, I was faced with my finite reality, poorness of spirit and on my worse day, extravagant wealth and resources.

I had not met God in a personal way. 

Honestly, God sounded boring, restrictive and something only weak people need. But as the ocean stretched out to meet the edge of the blazing horizon, I had a strong sense that I was not there by chance and that I was not alone.

And the beauty that flooded this place gave me a stronger sense of the Lord. 

His power. 

His greatness. 

His breathtaking beauty.

I longed to know that my life was more than one exotic trip, fun experiences, and material things. 

I hungered to be part of a bigger purpose in the grand scheme of, well, .....the entire world. My soul stirred deeply for people and awakened to the God who paints the sky with thick brush strokes of pinks, orange and gold hues. The very same God who tells the oceans how far they can go.  

I had come to fulfill a quest to live out my daring independence and experience the world. I left with a sense of brokenness and longing to live for something bigger than my self-focus, in light of the great need I was encountering.

Indeed, I had gotten more than I signed up for. 

In my abundance I had been impacted by this place of lack. In my loneliness, I had encountered God.  And standing in the grandeur of this immense ocean, I could not wait to return to my small town and the place I called home. 

Something unexpected happened to me on that trip. Instead of encountering paradise, I encountered the One who made it. 

As the storm moved in, I began my descent, but there was a pounding tempest rising in my own soul that I could not quiet. 

Blessed to be part of Emily Wiergena's book launch this week.

Today, I am thrilled to be part of Emily Wiergena's,
book launch and blog tour of, Atlas Girl.

I met Emily last year. 

She is beautiful, sweet and deeply real.

Every penny from the sales of her memoir, 
Atlas Girl go to the lulu tree. 

You'll be blessed and also be a blessing.

 Atlas Girl by Emily Wiergena


Since it is my blog-a-versary.... 
I'm just giving her book away! 

Sign up to receive my blog posts
 and you will be automatically entered. 

Thank you for being here. 
I would love to hear about somewhere you 
have traveled and how it impacted you!

Also linking up here. Beautiful stories. I hope you will go check them out.


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© Rhonda Quaney