Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Ravine. They came out to meet David and the people with him. As David and his men approached, he greeted them. 1 Samuel 30:21
I said I have a surprise for this week and it is…
I am writing to you from the high seas!
This is my third cruise, the second I have taught/worked. Working on a cruise is completely different from a vacation. My focus is not on fun or relaxing but on the individuals that have paid to take the classes I was advertised to teach.
I love my job not only because we get to create beauty but just as much for the ladies with whom I rub elbows. I learn as much from them, if not more, than I could ever teach.
Two years ago Crystal was a student on a cruise. After being widowed three times and married for the forth, she taught me love is meant to be cherished and shared. She had been on her own since age 15 after her parent’s death. She became a hairdresser to put herself through nursing school, ending with a a doctorate and becoming the administrator of four hospitals.
This cruise I am hanging out with a sixty something former cardiologist. She retired after an infection in her brain caused her to be in a vegetative state for a year. It took another year for her to relearn how to read Dr Seuss and walk.
Then there is a special lady with whom I shared tears. Her son was shot and killed during a carjacking in his own driveway. She conveyed the anger and fear that the murderer will be released and his juvenile record expunged in two years.
These are just two stories. Others entail abusive marriages, stalkers, a 70 yr old battling breast cancer for the forth time, raising a disabled granddaughter. A sweet woman in a turban is loosing her cancer battle. She is expecting another four months to leave her imprint on the rest of us before departing this world.
When I look around I don’t see brokenness, I see hope. Each of these ladies have come to the end of themselves and have chosen not to focus on the ugliness and despair . They’ve made the decision not to walk alone. One stated that when she had no energy left, she borrowed it from her friend, as her friend smiles at her side.
The stories bring not only floods of tears but just as much healing laughter. We will not leave the same people we arrived.
While growing and mentally processing, like David’s men in the verse, I feel exhausted. In addition, the times I do step away, I am painfully learning that ‘tours are just tastes.’ What I mean is, we are taken hither and yon on a tour, seeing serene landscapes and capturing moments of quietness and peace on film but never experiencing it. We snap a picture, run for another and another, are then herded into a full bus. We edit said pictures during our ride back to the ship. We don’t experience the peace, we just take pictures to look at and long for…later. How sad.
We are beginning to realize less just might be more. Perhaps seeing less but having the time to sit, letting it sink to the soul, with Heavenly Dad whispering in the stillness, could be energizing and fuel for the emotional growth taking place in the classroom. As with any experience, we are living, learning, and tucking away our in-sites for “the next time,” if we are ever so blessed.
So now my self evaluation:
Am I ready to stop watching others enjoy tranquility when I could, in all honesty, choose it with prioritizing (although painful at first)?
Am I willing to do the work for peace and tranquillity? It isn’t something one can “fall into,” but must be planned.
How and in what way am I letting these stories penetrate into my innermost being? How are the stories going change me? Am I capable of learning from other people’s experiences or must I experience the pain myself?
When I get off the ship there will be a difference. How about you?
Until next time: blessings!