Have you ever encountered a moment when your breath is taken away by something so beautiful that you almost have to stop whatever it is you are doing? When that happens to me, it is almost like everything around me slows down and I just want to drink it in. A few weeks ago, while in Nicaragua visiting House of Hope, our team had a free afternoon and we took a brief excursion to Masaya - to shop and to visit the Masaya Volcano, an active volcano just outside of Managua.
As we drove up the mountainside, the landscape had been created and carved from volcanic eruption from a few hundred years ago. It was a wide swath of nothing except lava rocks, fields growing greener than anything we'd seen yet in the tropical climate, and trees with delicate white blooms of Nicaragua's national flower swaying in the fragrant breeze.
This landscape was doubly stunning being illuminated by the fast sinking sun and the thunderstorms brewing in the distance. Being so far from familiar comforts, being with a group of people I had begun to love like my own family, and being completely overwhelmed by God constantly & generously offering His presence to me in the most mundane things throughout the week had begun to culminate in my heart. Driving up that mountainside to the rim of the volcano is one of those moments I'll not soon forget.
Arriving at the rim, the view we garnered was something that literally took my breath away - and I'm not talking about the assaulting odorous sulfur in the air. The view of the rim was unlike anything I've ever seen. The pictures I took cannot capture the coloration, the striation, the unique landscape that was created by this monster of nature. But I can tell you that it was stunning.
*You can see the smoke rising from the gaping mouth of the Volcano below*
Amid the silliness of the team, I took a moment to step away from them to take in this beauty. It reminded me of a line from one of my favorite Weepies songs "All this beauty, I might have to close my eyes and slowly open and watch the sunrise...." In a sense, this is what God was doing on this trip. In the few weeks before I left for Nicaragua, I felt a bit like my heart's eyes had closed in a strange death of sorts. Nicaragua was a slow opening of those eyes again to life, beauty and hope. This moment at the rim of Masaya was part of that. It was grey, overcast, the ground was black fine sand created from the Volcanic ash and rock. There was a gaping hole spewing sulfur, smoke and who knows what else into the air around us. I was standing on top of a monster of destruction, Something that has wreaked havoc on the land and people around it. And standing in that place, breathing the sulphate in the air, I could not stop myself from seeing that this place, this destructive power was beautiful. Not just 'beautiful in the grey' but really, genuinely breathtaking as you take in the grand scope of it. It was stunning to my heart in every sense of the word.
*the mouth of the volcano*
While I stood in the beauty and took it all in, I had to stop for a moment and think about the destruction and the things that I had allowed to destroy me from the inside out over the previous six months. And taking all of that in too, the ugly the destructive nature of fear and insecurity, I found that here, at the rim of an active volcano, I found a redemptive beauty. That this destruction was beautiful. It gave new meaning to "beauty from ashes" to me. But truly, looking into the gaping mouth of the volcano - the seemingly bottomless pit that is the source of every spit of destructive power, I couldn't help but see Redemption spelled out for me. I still haven't been able to fully put legs on it.
We climbed to the top of the viewing vantage point to see the whole scene. It was great. But the best moment was the picture I caught from the perspective after climbing to the top and back down to where we started the journey. And I realized this, I know God makes beautiful things out of dust. And when the dust settled in my life I saw an image not unlike this moment I caught looking back at the journey to the top of the hill and back to the starting over point. Redemption was there and overlooking the whole mountain of destruction. And ultimately, when things get ugly in life and dark and grimy...there's only one place to go to find that redemption.