I’ve just got back from overseas so it’s a little more difficult than a usual Monday morning to imagine somewhere else I would like to be. It’s pretty good to be home. But if I didn’t have to go to work today, a day relaxing on a beautiful beach does sound lovely …
I have tended to make most of my travels to places which are either big cities with lots of history, culture and events to take in, or to places where I can serve and learn from different cultures, ways of expressing faith, and experiences of life. So Port Douglas was a real change of pace for me. I spent a week there nearly three years ago and to be honest I did get a little bored by the end. But it was an absolutely beautiful place to relax for a bit, and a day there would be a wonderfully nice change of pace this morning.
What did I love about Port Douglas and its surrounds?
The colours. Photos just don’t quite do them justice. The incredible variety of shades of blue in the ocean and the sky, the greens of the tropical trees and lush rainforests, the whites and yellows of the sand. And of course the incredible colours of marine life at the Great Barrier Reef.
The space. Walking the beach at night with no one around for miles. Swimming and snorkelling in the ocean so far away from the cares of the world. Climbing the mountains on the scenic railway up into the misty clouds.
The pace. Slowing down and taking time to see, smell, hear and soak it all in. Relaxing. Not worrying about what was happening next.
What did I learn from my time there?
About myself, well, that I do like to be busy and learn and grow and experience new things. Weeks of lying on a beach somewhere doing nothing is never going to be my thing. But, I appreciate that I also need to slow down sometimes, to just take time to breathe deeply and to simply be. To worship. To remember that the world will keep spinning without me. That walking alone on the beach at night is a great time to pray and hear God speak into my life – to be still and know that He is God. (Which reminds me that I need to do that more often even when I’m at home!)
I also went to church at the beautiful (and tiny) St Mary’s by the Sea Chapel and met people from all over the world who were in town that Sunday. We prayed for each other and shared something of our stories, a really special experience of coming together for a brief moment, aware of the cares of our lives and yet able to entrust them to our great God’s keeping in one another’s presence, and to worship Him for His presence and goodness right then and there.
And finally, it was on my last night in Port Douglas that my niece was born. I spent a couple of hours late that night praying on the beach – praying for her birth, her life, her faith, her journey, her parents, our wider family. So as she continues to grow, Port Douglas reminds me to keep praying for her, and that one of those prayers can be that she too will find places which help her be still and know God’s presence in the moment.