I am extremely close friends with two ladies whom I met the first week of our freshman year at Samford University. As our friendship has developed and strengthened, I have realized how extraordinarily grateful I am for the two of them. I have relied heavily on them throughout the separation, divorce and just every day life. Every so often, the three of us reconvene to have what we call “Roomy Weekends.” Because we are all young and still live on relatively meager salaries, this typically happens at one of our homes. After a particularly stressful few weeks, I must confess that I was looking forward to this particular “roomy weekend” more than ever. It was made even better by the fact that one of the roomies lives minutes from the Gulf of Mexico in Venice, Florida. So, the toddler and I loaded up the car and headed south.
When the roomies are together, we always laugh, relax and laugh some more. The laughter and camaraderie are always refreshing but this time we had the beautiful beach to add to the relaxing vibe. What could be better? The last night, after spending days frolicking in the ocean and sand, we decided to head to the jetties to watch the sunset. (And, yes, I would say that we frolicked.) That evening, as the toddler climbed and played on the rocks, a pod of dolphins came close by. We watched the dolphins play in the water. We watched the waves splash and lap at the huge rocks of the jetty. (See the pictures, below.) It seemed as though we were surrounded by God’s beauty. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. I began to think, “why can’t I feel this way at home?” “Why can’t I experience this peace, this beauty where I live?”
The next day, on the long eight hour drive which seemed to be taking so much longer than the trip down had, I started thinking again about the beauty we had experienced the night before. I was actually day dreaming about how nice it would be to live in some exotic beach. I have always dreamed of living in touristy areas. I want to live in places where everyone wants to visit for the natural beauty. I want to be one of the locals. Somewhere around mile 342 of the 489 we had to cover, it dawned on me that I too have lived in some incredibly beautiful places. I was born near the Gulf Coast and Mobile Bay. I learned to ride my bicycle on the levees of the Mississippi River near Sorrento, Louisiana. I have enjoyed the Sipsey River Swamps near Fayette, Alabama. I went to college near beautiful Oak Mountain. When I was married I lived just steps from the Talladega National Forest. Here, in Georgia I am a few miles from a view so lovely; that President F.D. Roosevelt made it is his home.
All this thinking as I drove, (everyone else was asleep, what else did I have to do but drive and think?) led me to another thought -- each of the three roomies currently live in really beautiful places. One enjoys the beach while the other enjoys cliffs, mountains and Tennessee River in Knoxville.
While I still want to move to some exotic local, I realized that God has supplied us with beauty every where we turn. Think about it. This vast planet is covered with a plethora of different natural scenes – all very different but all very beautiful. Those who are fortunate enough to call the American West home boast the sandstone cliffs of the Grand Canyon. Asians enjoy the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas. Irish enjoy the rolling hills and emerald green. Even in arid Kenya, one can find it. All of these scenes demonstrate the beauty of God’s face. We don’t have to go anywhere to see Him or His beauty.
By this point, I am sure you are asking yourself, “Okay, Shannon, what does all this nature talk have to do with me?” So here it is. If God took the time to make certain that we could see his beauty at every turn in the river, every crest of the ocean and every peak of the mountain, why wouldn’t he take care to do so in our lives and our beings? It only stands to reason that He intended us to see His presence at every person turn in the river. Regardless of what that turn may be, there is definitely some bit of His beauty present. That bend may be an easy one to visualize God like the birth of a child. Other times, the river speeds up and we aren’t as able to see Him because of the treachery that awaits – like a divorce. Regardless of what kind of turn you come across on the river, His beauty is still present.
The one difference, for me at least, in the beauty discovered on vacation and the beauty that presents itself in everyday life is that while on vacation it is easy to find. I was relaxed and calm. We sat still on those rocks for some time. At home, in the midst of life, it is difficult to recognize the ever present beauty of God. It is here that I believe Psalm 46:10 is especially pertinent: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” We must find ways to actually sit still and be calm even at home, in order to recognize the beauty that He offers.
Let’s take that one step further. What if God didn’t only want us to see His beauty in the world that He created but also in the beings He created? I think that is exactly what God intended. Genesis 1: 26-27 (taken from the God’s Word translation) says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness. Let them rule the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the domestic animals all over the earth, and all the animals that crawl on the earth.’ So God created humans in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female.”
Psalm 139:14 (New International Version) says “ I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” So, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are His works of beauty just as those waves and mountains. Human beings are living, moving testaments to the beauty of God. Not only does that mean that we are full of God’s beauty (how is that for a confidence booster?) but it also means that the ex-spouse is made is the image and beauty of God. Just like the previous river analogy, it may be difficult to see the beauty in that person because of the treachery that awaits around the river bend, but it is still there. You just have to be still and look for it.
One last thing: I built a new playlist of “beachy” songs the night before we left. While I was downloading a few new songs, I stumbled across Macy Gray’s new album titled “Sellout.” One of the tracts is titled “Beauty in the World.” Ironically, it is very befitting this post and it was kind of the theme song for the weekend. Enjoy.
Photo 1 was taken by a photographer. The roomy’s work can be seen at: www.artistic-avenues.com/blog/
Photos 2 and 3 were taken (rather poorly) by me.
Photo 4 is of Mobile Bay, Mobile Alabama and can be found at www.citydata.com
Photo 5 is of Peavine Falls at Oak Mountain State Park near Pelham, Alabama. The picture can be found at www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Multimedia.jsp?id=m-2898
Photo 6 is of Knoxville, Tennessee and can be found at http://farm1.static.flickr.com/52/181880150_59cd990393.jpg
Photo 7 is of the Grand Canyon and can be found at www.nps.gov
Photo 8 is of the Himalayan Mountains as seen from Nepal. It came from: http://www.esp8.netfirms.com/images/01.Himalayas.jpg
Photo 9 is of Ireland near County Kerry. The image came from http://www.southwestwalksireland.com/hiking-vacation-traditional-ireland.html
Photo 10 is of Mount Kenya in the distance from http://tourwaysinternational.com/twiindex/specials_kenya.htm
Photo 11 is the view from atop Pine Mountain in the Roosevelt State Park near Pine Mountain, Georgia.