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Topic: THE UGLY TOURIST (07/09/15)
By Jennifer Woodley
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Receding from the noisy crowd on the viewing platform, his eyes drank in the rugged vista before him. This was the Twelve Apostles: one of Australia’s most iconic and most popular tourist destinations. Yet today, only eight, not twelve sandstone monoliths arise from the shallow waters near the beach. Eight individually carved sculptures, living testimonies to the hands that have shaped their beauty – time, wind and water.
Despite the driving southerly gale, the man crouched comfortably on a nearby rock. He admired two sea eagles soaring upward on thermals, keen eyes searching for a meal below. In an instant they plunged downwards into the white thrashing surf, arising with a prize. He closed his eyes, recording a picture of this awesome place. A photo etched in memory, etched on his heart. Then he began to wonder, to ponder, to give thanks. Beauty discovered around him, awakened beauty inside.
Wind wiping her hair, salt stinging her face, the woman pushed through the crowd on the viewing platform. Why had the bus driver stopped at this wretched, God-forsaken place? Her eyes scanned the landscape ahead. Rocks in the water. Wild foam tossed seas. Birds overhead. Endless dangerous cliffs. Had she come along almost 250 kilometers of hair bend curves to reach this? Disappointed, even angry, she raised her camera. Snap. Memory on film. A reminder to friends back home to not bother. She had been there, done that. Not worth it.
The driving wind pushed her back to the comfortable coach. She had taken no time, to ponder, to wonder - if only to wonder why she came. She had seen no beauty, only ugliness. And it made her feel the same inside.
Where do we find ourselves in this story? Are we savoring each moment, despite the hardship or difficulties we encounter? Or like the woman, do we rush on by snapping a brief encounter with the event, failing to engage fully in the moment: failing to wonder at the Father’s work in creation, failing to ponder our place in His world, our place with Him and with each other, failing to give thanks for His gifts that are ours to enjoy, to cherish and to protect.
We are each tourists journeying through this world. Traveling to another place. Let us be made beautiful through our experiences, rather than ugly. The Holy Scriptures exhort us to meditate upon what is good, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy. Can we stay in each event, each conversation? Linger long enough to discover beauty, to wonder, to ponder, to give thanks and be made beautiful in the moment.
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