Recently, I returned from an amazing honeymoon voyage to the Virgin Islands. As our ship docked, we were in breathtaking awe of the pristine clear blue waters and lush tropical hillsides. We were greeted by locals dressed in colorful costumes representing their indigenous culture and dancing to Caribbean music. Quaint shops lined the historic avenues and street vendors displayed their wares with cheerful enthusiasm. One could not help but be taken away on a warm breeze of excitement. Taxi drivers lined the avenues willing to take you on tours of their treasured island for this is the home of THE “Treasure Island” boasting the resting place of much famous pirate booty, ship wrecks, water wonders with many colorful species of coral (who knew “fire coral” is a thing); animals, military forts, historic landmarks, and much tropical horticulture.
Joining other eager tourists, we commandeered a taxi bound for the other side of the island. As we left the tourist district, our mouths stood agape as we began to see town after town with homes standing in ruin and poverty. The inner sanctum of this island was devastated by the 2017 Category 5 Hurricane Maria (our own taxi driver is still waiting to rebuild his home), the loss of the sugar cane industry, and more recently, the closure of one of the world’s largest oil refineries. Although surrounded by beautiful clear waters teaming with colorful fish, the island is desolate of fresh ground water with residents relying on cisterns to supply their daily needs. As we pulled up on the other side of the island, we were once again greeted with beautiful shops, scenic streets, and the amazing sites, smells, and sounds of a paradise coastline. How very different from our tour through the inner sanctum of this island.
What about your island? The one you inhabit. Your communities in which you live, work, and possibly worship. Does it seem that those on the shores of your life live in a paradise compared to that of you? Does it seem that they are carefree of any worries and oblivious to the trials and daily struggles that you yourself are burdened with? In truth, the reality is that we all weather storms in our lives. We cannot see the internal struggles of those around us just as they often are not aware of ours. It is only when we enter into relationship and are willing to be vulnerable to expose the results of our trials to one another that we can truly see the inner sanctum of each other’s islands. When we do this, we build connection with one another just as the highway through the center of the island my husband and I toured connected the two beautiful coastal towns. This is a road less traveled and one that should be entered with caution. However, it allows us to celebrate the hardships that have strengthened our core selves looking beyond the polished surfaces that we first allow others to see. Who in your life can you trust and are willing to venture this road less traveled with? What deeper level of relationship will you gain in understanding with this person by venturing down this path? Are you willing to look at not only the good, but the damaged and poverty stricken areas that lie hidden beneath the surface?
Traveling back to our port, my husband and I expressed our amazement of the beauty of the island as well as our sadness for the impact of terrific storms weathered and financial losses. The hardiness of this people gave us great encouragement and we were honored by those who shared their stories of joy, loss, and love. But, there story is not over. Our first taxi driver, after being homeless with his family for the first year after Hurricane Maria, is now beginning to rebuild. Six years! But, he is rebuilding! He loves his home, his island, his people, and his family. What area of your life has been devastated or impacted by a storm? Are you willing to begin the rebuilding process? You too can rewrite your story and “Write a story you love to live!”
~Karmen Taylor, LLC