Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snorkeling in the Presence of God

I have always been someone who seems to meet God most easily in nature, witnessing his splendid creativity. I've praised Him while seeing the Grand Canyon, snow-capped mountains, lightning storms, and gorgeous flowers.

But I never anticipated what it would be like to go snorkeling for the first time. I have to say that it was one of the most wonderful days of my life, and definitely a spiritual experience.

We live in Jordan, so traveling to Aqaba was an easy thing to do. With my in-laws visiting, we'd decided to spend 3 nights in a hotel just outside of Aqaba, only a couple kilometers from the Saudi border. I'd heard that the coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba were beautiful and I couldn't wait to try snorkeling.

Even though it was mid-December, the water was very comfortable and I was grateful to not need a wet-suit. All I rented was a mask, snorkel and a pair of water-shoes. The reef was only meters from the shore, and for much of the time, in shallow water. The coral themselves were not colorful, but the fish and other creatures were amazing. I would see a few kinds of beautiful fish, thinking I'd seen what the reef had, and then I'd discover many more, in completely different colors and designs. Even after snorkeling for a couple hours, and not going more than 200 meters along the length of the shore, I still encountered new fish right up to the minutes before I got out. Highlights were the blue sailfin tang, cornetfish, lionfish, bannerfish and butterfly fish. And being in the midst of a school of fish, even so near the sea's surface, was just an amazing feeling.

Not only were the fish more varied and intricately colored and patterned than I'd expected, the moment of putting my head underwater also brought more peace and quiet than I'd thought possible. Above the surface were wind, waves, noise, and other people. Below, I felt alone and tranquil, as in a perfect sanctuary. As a quiet observer, I received just a small glimpse of God's abundant and passionate creativity. I could not help but worship.

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