This photo is so profound to me on many levels.
While touring with The Lion King in 2014, we were blessed enough to be spending two months in Hawai’i while a huge chunk of the U.S. was experiencing a very harsh winter. Our friends’ social media pages were full of pictures of snow and ice, winter gear, and lamentations of arctic temperatures. Simultaneously, my castmates and I spent our days exploring the beauty of the islands and navigating beach time between shows.
The boon of being stationed in Hawai’i for two months is that the days off could be spent island-hopping. And island-hopping is what gave me the gift of this shot.
I had taken a quick flight to The Big Island from Oahu with a castmate. Our plans for the day included a visit to Volcanoes National Park, full of volcanic and geothermal activity. We rented a car and explored Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road, stopping to explore steam vents, lava fields, and finally ending near the Hōlei Sea Arch. Lava flow had forced the road closed, so we chose to park and walk along paths, some of which took us to the very edge of the island where the cliffs were high and the water below, quite rough.
What was fascinating to me was this sight; the evidence of resilience in the midst of wreckage. This entire area was covered in hard black lava. Who knew how long ago the lava had flowed through destroying everything in its path, before dropping down into the ocean below? Maybe days, months, years ago. But in the midst of that destruction, there were palm trees that stood as pillars, resilient with life, and smaller clusters of greenery that had pushed their way through the hard surface of destruction.
Looking at this image, and at myself standing in the midst of it, I think of the year that we’ve all experienced. Personally, I’ve experienced a year of transition and upheaval. There have definitely been moments of questioning why everything I felt like I needed was being removed from my hands. There have been moments of epic difficulty and strain, and a few moments when I was sure I’d missed the mark along the way and began resigning myself to complete failure, preparing to quit altogether. The quitting would have equaled cutting off my own goals, my own dreams, my own growth. Likewise, our country and world are in the midst of great upheaval. At moments, it seems we’re on a steady decline, swiftly moving backwards, destroying the positive progress we’ve made on many fronts.
But in the midst of personal and societal upheaval, there is evidence of resilience. Amidst the flow of destruction there are still pillars that remain standing. For me, my faith and trust that everything that’s meant for me will still come is what has kept me going. The fact that there are still dreams and visions that just wont quit is enough evidence that those dreams and visions will come to pass. And everything that has been destroyed is being replaced by smaller clusters of what is necessary for the next level; new visions, new dreams, new ideas, new opportunities, new connections, and new accomplishments. By the same token, in the midst of ugliness and tragedy in the world, we’ve seen moments where people have come together in spite of differences and fought for the greater good of us all. There are pillars that remain and there are smaller clusters of life peeking through ugliness to make way for new things to grow.
I do not believe that God allows destruction for the fun of it. When things fall away or are burned away, that’s proof enough that they were not necessary or beneficial to what’s next. And although the process may be painful and frustrating and angering and confusing, it’s necessary. In the midst of destruction, it’s important to remember that new life will always find a way through. And it’s important to submit to the process. We can choose to run away from the heat of the fire or stand strong while the unnecessary burns away, knowing that new clusters of life will appear and grow into what’s next.
As we draw closer to the end of 2017, I’m encouraging myself and others to take note of what’s still standing; were it not necessary, it would not have survived. Take note of what has been destroyed; were it essential, it would have stayed. Take note of what’s sprouting; give it what it needs to blossom and allow it the space to do so for as long as it’s meant to stay. There is life after wreckage…if we allow ourselves to be wrecked.