what a wonderful world.

11:17:00 PM

During my time in India I made a trip to the Andaman Islands - a beautiful archipelago off the south eastern coast of India.

I ate barracuda, slept in a bamboo hut, swam in the Bay of Bengal, saw a massive monitor lizard cross the street, made friends with countless Israeli backpackers, and hit a chicken while trying to maneuver the scooter I had just rented.

It was an adventurous and spontaneous and truly remarkable trip. I experienced a new level of earthly beauty and realized a million times that I was truly, deeply, irreversibly in love with Kory (it was the first time we had been apart since arriving in India). The memories I made there are irreplaceable and special but for the most part they stay in the back of my mind, the way most memories do. There's one memory, in particular though, that I had all but forgotten about until Sunday night.

One morning of our trip, I woke up particularly early to talk to Kory. I went to Andaman with my friend Katheryn and I felt so bad for constantly being glued to that little nokia phone that I would wake up extra early or stay up extra late to talk, every minute was golden. One morning in particular I was heading back to our hut when I noticed the most breathtakingly beautiful sunrise. I had never seen anything like it. The water in the Bay of Bengal was so shallow and calm that it completely receded at night and left patches of sand completely exposed amid various small, connecting pools. Each pool glimmered in the ever-increasing light and mirrored every moment of that sunrise. It was enchanting, to say the very least, and I could only look away long enough to grab my camera from our hut. I remember looking at it and feeling like if I just walked out far enough, I might reach heaven. It was a glimpse of something truly celestial.

^^ it may look like a stock photo, but no, this is real life. (!!!)

What was truly remarkable about that sunrise, though, was the fact that it felt like I was the only person in the world to witness it. The beach was completely vacant - too early for average vacationers to be awake and too early for the fishermen to even fish. It occurred to me that whether or not I - or anyone for that matter - was there to watch that sunrise, it was going to happen. And not only that, but it was going to be just as vibrantly beautiful whether it had an audience or not.

 I think about that now and it teaches me something really powerful about God and about beauty and about the earth: God orchestrates the most beautiful symphonies in our lives and it is completely up to us whether or not we choose to listen to them. God's plan for us is inherently beautiful, we need do nothing but slow down and look. That doesn't mean the plan is easy or carefree or without pain, but it is so beautiful. God's very nature is to create incomprehensibly beautiful and sublime things (for us!) - in the earth, in our lives, in our homes. God cannot be separated from beauty.

 Lately, as I go to the mountains or watch the sun, or lay beneath the stars I hear this voice, over and over again as I'm thinking about how much I love the earth, saying, "that's the whole point" or "this is all for you." The point is for us to look at the mountains or the sun or the ocean and to feel awestruck and consequentially closer to God. The beauty of the earth functions only to delight and please and bring us joy. And, of course, at the end of the day it all comes back to love. I look at the world around me and I see it as a manifestation of God's gentleness and love. Every sunset and sunrise, every mountain peak, every lake and river, every tree and every blossom can be a reminder of God's love for his children if we just let it.

(also, a couple pictures of Provo's sunset on Sunday that evoked the memories of that remarkable Andaman sunrise)

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  1. This is beautiful! Colby and I had a similar discussion on Sunday as we watched the sunset here in Hawaii. You captured a lot of my feelings in this blog post so perfectly. It's amazing that the sun you saw in India, was the same Sun you saw in Utah and the same sun I witness in Hawaii. The same sun shines on all of us! How amazing?!

    Anyway, just want to say that I love this and that you are a beautiful person.