Life in Between

I decided to take a head to one of my favorite spots thirty miles south of home. I planned to go to Goliad and spend the day in the state park. But as I drove, I realized I hadn’t considered how the park fared during the storm. August 2017, Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast. My community was one damaged by the storm but not nearly as bad as the coastal towns just down the road. Five months later, life has eased back into a more familiar rhythm. But, drive through this area, and you will catch a glimpse of the hollow metal frame where only a few small fractured pieces of golden arches are in place. So much that still needs to be repaired.

Today, when I finally arrived La Bahia State Park, I was delighted to see it open, and people were again enjoying it's South Texas rustic beauty. One of my favorite pastimes is walking along the river trail.  I headed to my usual spot to park and saw barricades.

Duct tape barely held the sign that said, "River trail closed due to hazardous conditions." Sadly, I headed to another spot by the river to just sit and enjoy the silence.

A cool breeze brought relief to my cheeks, warm from the afternoon sun. But the intermittent beep beep beep from heavy equipment moving debris across the river interrupted the stillness. And the rumbling of a bulldozer off in the distance. Both sounds overlaid with the chirping of birds and rustling leaves. 

This place is beautiful. And it is ugly. The once green riverbank is now hard clay that is almost barren if not for the tiny pops of green bursting through the packed surface. Piles of dead grass looking like small haystacks dotted the area. Most striking was the juxtaposition of mangled black branches that had snapped during the storm hanging from trees and now frame the flowing river. Murky green water should be repulsive but looks strangely beautiful as the sun dances across the ripples.

The river is in between. Evidence of destruction is everywhere but so is evidence of new life. Isn’t that reality at times? Bad things happen. So much is wrong in our society today. It is almost daily that I see so much pain and conflict that I just want to throw up my hands in defeat.

Then I realize that is not an option. I can take a moment to stop, suffer, weep, lament and give honor to deep pain that has no right to be ignored. But then I also come to a place where life and hope nudge back into my reality. So often, I think I have to choose to focus on the chaos and suffering or focus on hope and new possibilities. Sitting on a riverbank in La Bahia I realize I can do both. There is beauty in doing both.

I hope that my life displays the glorious truth that I can live in a world where life and death intermingle. I want people to look at my face and not just notice the wrinkles earned through age and suffering. I want them to see the Son dancing off my skin regardless if I am weeping or laughing. Yes, that is it. I want to thrive in this place of “in between.”

 by Cheryl Miller

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