On the 26 December 2004, a major earthquake erupted off the coast of Sumatra Indonesia. As a result a tsunami wave of up to 100 feet, struck local communities around the Indian Ocean with a loss of over 227 thousand people in fourteen countries that devastated all the infrastructure in its way.
Over Christmas and New Year my wife and I travelled to Thailand and stayed for a while on the beautiful island of Phuket. One morning when I was out running I was shocked to see a sign that read: tsunami hazard zone and realised I was in an area that had been affected by the tsunami in 2004.
In conversations with the locals we heard a story about a group of snorkelers who left the island they were on and whilst snorkelling experienced strong under currents. When they surfaced to their amazement they found that the island they had left had been completely swept away by the tsunami wave. We spoke to a driver who had lost his taxi due to the disaster and had to replace it and eventually recovered from the ordeal. Hotels, shops, homes, fishing boats and factories were also destroyed but with the help of government funding and a strong sense of communal will, the tragedy was acknowledged and plans to recover and move forward were put into place.
During special times of celebration and expectation, Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023, there often emerges unexpected situations that get out of hand and individuals and families fall out and the results can be similar in part to a tsunami wave.
During one evening in the hotel we stayed in, we were shocked to hear a wave of hurtful and violent words that erupted and were exchanged between two individuals in the hotel room nearby. The words were hateful and full of incrimination, accusation and anger. The only time the arguments subsided was when another neighbour, also hearing the noise, knocked on their door which helped the people to come to their senses and eventually calm was restored.
In life we say a wrong word intentionally or unintentionally! We act or don’t act in a way people expect from us! Offense is taken and given! Things that have been said and done are not forgotten! A particular narrative becomes real and has to be defended and situations grow all out of proportion. The issue of truth over relationships dominates and there is no room for reconciliation to emerge based on mutual forgiveness to overcome the unexpected tsunami wave.
On the last night of our stay in Phuket we witnessed a beautiful sunset and a person close by expressed their appreciation of the calm and joy that was felt by all the people watching the sun set on another day. He shared “how can people fight and be out of sorts with each other locally and world-wide when we see such a beauty and calm that the natural world offers to everyone”.
Following the morning of that tumultuous tsunami wave a sunset would have taken place in the midst of a relative calm after the disaster and people would think about what had happened and how they could recover from it.
In this blog we can be reminded about the importance of relationships over truth and pride. We may feel that we are right and others are wrong and in the midst of it we lose love, respect and future friendships. All relationships at home, work and socially have the potential for harm or good. As we enter into this New Year 2023 things will be said and done that hopefully bring an encouragement for daily living in exchange for those harmful words and actions that destroy.
Having left Phuket we spent some time in the busy but lovely city of Bangkok and then reached out to the calm of Chang Mai in the Northern territory enjoying a visit to an elephant sanctuary. At one point we shared a mud bath attempting to put mud on their backs that would be later washed of in a local stream.
It is said that an elephant never forgets and mud does and can stick inadvertently. When we fall out with somebody unexpected or planned mud is shared and sticks! It is important that we try to forgive, amend and hopefully forget and move on to that place where the mud is washed away and a relationship restored and enjoyed again.
The disciple Peter asked his teacher Jesus: “How many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” The answer was unexpected: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” When that offending tsunami wave flows over us we are asked to forgive and forgive and forgive and to share some form of olive branch that keeps any differing feelings and emotions connected with a hope for true reconciliation and forgiveness
If we do not forgive those who have wronged us then it is unlikely that we will be forgiven by others who we have offended. When a tsunami of wrong washes over us we want justice and revenge. Often the better way is to try and understand what has happened and why and then seek some common ground as how best to overcome the situation and move forward together to reclaim the effects of trauma and retain the relationship.
There is a spiritual forgiveness that we may find in a forgiving God or we may be fortunate to find people around us who are willing to forgive us and even forget our short comings. It is never easy and it takes hard work and effort but peace is possible. Forgiveness is a worthwhile goal and can be gained
In conclusion, the Life Guards on the beaches throughout the Indian Ocean give an indication when it is safe to surf the big waves and enjoy them. They tell us when the waves are settled and calm and we just relax with them. They will warn us of stormy seas and violent waves but they did not anticipate the tsunami wave of 2004.
Thanks cottonbro studio pexels.com
Try to assess and anticipate where possible the waves that are coming your way today and in the year to come. In terms of human relationships if you feel there is going to be a problem, move just like the sign tsunami hazard zone prompts us, to rise to a higher ground, to forgive, not to be offended and to be gracious in being understood or misunderstood. So may you be filled with joy and peace in all your relationships and life experiences during 2023?
Selah (pause to think calmly on what has just been read)
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