Monday, June 27, 2011

In the House of God, Forever

"When we define our happiness by some point in the future, it will never arrive."  I read this recently in a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye (how about that for a title?) by Joshua Harris, and it really struck home. He goes on: "We'll keep waiting until tomorrow. If we allow impatience to govern us, we will miss the gift of the moment. We'll arrive at that point in time we expected to provide fulfillment and find it lacking." I'm an expert at escapism, a professional when it comes to daydreams. I look forward to events and times in my future with an eager desire for that which I don't have right now. My next travelling excursion, for instance (whenever that is). Marriage. Children. The grand opening of my greenhouse colony on Antarctica. The publication of my book on the fascinating behavior of hungry tourists. Et cetera. I am an escapist, and proud of it. 

But can escapism go too far? Is it possible to overdose on daydreams? If dwelling on the future means that I completely forget the present, then my escapism has gone too far. When I put all my energy in waiting for the Someday, I fail to serve God in the Right Now. Josh Harris was making this point in terms of romantic relationships, but this concept of contentment, of serving the Lord no matter what time, could be applied to lots of areas in my life, not just to romance. There is a season for everything. Summer is on its way in all its sunshine and green-grass glory, but if we sit around in the basement waiting for winter to be over, we'll miss the beauty of the snow.

I find myself face to face with the ugly side of me, the side I don't want anyone to see. I try to hide this ugliness even from myself, but I know it is there. I know my temptations and how easily they come. But the moment I realize this, I see the grace of God, making me free. When I recognize my sin (yes, I just said the S-word), then I can completely understand forgiveness. Only when I hate my sin, hate myself, that is when I really love Jesus. When I am up to my neck in sorrow, that is when I know the fullness of joy.

"Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." ~ Psalm 23:6

Monday, June 20, 2011

Discovering Whalers Cove

I hope you all had a sea-sational Father's Day weekend in your part of the world. Nothing over the edge here, except lots of time spent with friends and family. I have been blessed with the best father I could ask for, who loves me in a way that shows the love of my Heavenly Father, and I am so grateful that I could spend Father's Day with him.

 By the time Friday comes around, I always feel ready to forget my troubles and enjoy every bit of free time I can grasp. Freedom is being by the sea, feeling the salty breeze blow away worry and fear. Freedom is making new discoveries and playing hide-and-seek with the beauty of the world. 

A couple of friends and I did a bit of exploring last Friday. There really isn't that much to do or that many places to go on an island. I can't tell you how many days I wake up thinking how lovely it would be to run away to an art museum or an ice skating rink. Still, one simply can't sit inside all day, every day. The beginning threads of mental insanity would be strung - trust me, I've been there. So following a whim, we took a walk down by the seashore, in an attempt to find Whalers Cove. 

Whalers Cove... sounds rather piratey, doesn't it? Well, it turns out Whalers Cove is only a condominium complex, but we did spot one pirate. 

The rather bleak-looking building (it was so uninteresting, I didn't even think to photograph it) sat above the rocky coast, blocking the view to all but the inhabitants of the oceanfront condos. But around the corner we found the gateway - the opening to the real Whalers Cove. 

Down a railed staircase was a little hole of calm water between a sedate river and the sea. The tide was rising up to meet the downcurrent of the stream in a hesitant conflict of water. Looking around, I could see water, more water, and rocks. No whalers. No whales. Not a mermaid in sight. And though we did find a hiding place suitable for buried treasure, there was no X marks the spot. A little disappointing, I dare say,  but to be a bit cliche, it was the journey that mattered, not the destination. For in the company of good friends, the time whittles away pleasantly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

La Mer

~written June 9, 2011~

After a few patience-testing piano lessons this morning, I came down here to the sea. It's a beach I've never been to before, hidden behind the green-grown dunes. The small strip of sand winds around the edge of the turquoise sea, hugging the shoreline as it faces the unending ocean. It isn't the best place for swimming, as the reef grows close to the foamy fringe of surf, leaving a few feet of shallow water to wade in. But it is a good place to come away to - to piece back together the puzzle of sanity and serenity. Beach grass below a shade tree becomes my blanket and the tree trunk my pillow, while the white-on-blue layered sea is my vision. It is a place to watch the sea birds, the crabs, as they scurry on the sand - to contemplate the miles to the horizon and how to get there - to walk on water. I smell salt more than sunscreen here - a good sign that I am at last alone, reassured that God is in His heaven and all is right with the world. The unadorned tangled web we weave and the white noise of peace are the sandy spoils of the sea. 

With heart and soul I fly to the unbending horizon, with shaded eye sails and no rudder at all but the sea breeze and the sea skies and the seashine. The music of heaven and the beating of true hearts resound with the waves as we float away from the quivering leaves of our trouble trees. If only I were a mermaid. But I am more like a crab underground, afraid. If only, and I could be a gypsy of the water, unabashed and bold, with a current-bending will. I could fly undersea with the sea-strained stars overhead and drowned sailors by my side. Captain of my sea-urchined fate, controller of my sea-watered world. 

No. Dry-footed I stand. Crab-legged and sea-stunned on the shore. Not able to fly, above sea or below. Stick of driftwood in my hand and sand in my heart. It is enough for now, to quiver slowly between the worlds, half-wet. It is enough for dreams. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chasing Pirates of the Caribbean

Has anyone seen the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie? I really enjoyed the first three Pirates movies, and was curious to see how a fourth movie would turn out. On Stranger Tides was surprisingly great for being a fourth film - I generally lose interest after the first or second (think the Beethoven movies or Home Alone or Land Before Time < how many of those were there - twenty-nine?>). The biggest reason that On Stranger Tides is so good is probably the continued reign of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, and though Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley aren't in the movie, it still held up. All the sword-fighting and sea-story elements of the previous films are kept, but the story is refreshed enough with new characters and plots to be enjoyable. Johnny Depp is joined by Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane in an adventurous tale about Blackbeard and mermaids and the fountain of youth. What I love about the Pirates movies is the emphasis on sea legends and myths and how they are treated as reality. 

Another reason I wanted to see Pirates of the Caribbean 4: I spent last summer chasing Johnny Depp around in his black Escalade. Well, at least I think it was his car. The Pirates 4 cast and crew came to Hawaii last year for some of the filming. We could see the movie trailers and trucks parked all over the place, but unfortunately, no actors. I did a little bit of pirate chasing when they were in the neighborhood, and even though I saw George Clooney making another movie, no Johnny Depp. It was still fun though, and I got to see some of the scenery in the movie ahead of time. 

Movie crew tents set up by the beach:

Yellow tape attempting to keep spies out:

This is the setting for the sunset scene at the end of Pirates 4:

A bunch of JD spotter wannabes:

A boat full of crew members (I think):

No JD, but I did make a friend:

One evening on my way home from work, I spotted a trail of yellow arrows on the road. The movie crews use them to show all the trucks where to go, and the trail is always changing because they film in different areas. So since I had nothing better to do, I followed one of the trucks to see where they were going to film that night. We drove over a slowly winding road inland and upland, and we eventually arrived at the entrance to a ranch high above the sea. I had to turn around, since it was private property, but the drive was still worth it. Turning back down to the coast, I felt I could actually taste the last colors of the day as they slowly melted together and fell all over the golden green landscape:

Although it sounds a little pathetic that I actually chased pirates around last summer, and even though I didn't actually see any, I had a good time exploring the island, discovering the hidden beauty of this place where I live. It's all in the chase, I suppose. The journey. The adventure. The day-to-day surprises. What have you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Poem Trees

There is a hill called Castle in the Clumps called Wittenham in the shire of Oxford in that storybook country called Blighty. And on that hill is a tree called Poem.

Anglophile that I am, I can find a bit of old-world atmosphere even in the most tropical of islands. Like my own poem tree I found the other day.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

~ W.H. Davies

In this short Life
That only lasts an hour
How much - how little - is
Within our power

~ Emily Dickinson

Despite the rush of Memorial Weekend and sun-drenched afternoons and the wishful waiting of the world, I find myself drawn to the peace and quiet of poetry.

I'm Nobody! Who are you? 
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us! 
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody! 
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

~Emily Dickinson

Sometimes I cannot put into words the ups and downs, the love and loss, the hopes and fears, the everyday life that I, like everyone else, must go through. But the poets have already voiced my thoughts. I love this poem by Emily Dickinson, because it talks about being afraid of joy. Why does it feel safer to suffer? It is difficult to let the light of hope in through the cracks.

It might be lonelier
Without the Loneliness -
I'm so accustomed to my Fate - 
Perhaps the Other - Peace -

Would interrupt the Dark -
And crowd the little Room -
Too scant - by Cubits - to contain
The Sacrament - of Him -

I am not used to Hope -
It might intrude upon -
Its sweet parade - blaspheme the place -
Ordained to Suffering -

It might be easier
To fail - with Land in Sight -
Then gain - My Blue Peninsula - 
To perish - of Delight -

~ Emily Dickinson

And yet, I find myself hoping, dreaming, waiting - "once below a time".

Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

~ Dylan Thomas

I wandered lonely as a cloud
 That floats on high o'er vales and hills

~ William Wordsworth
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