Reynisfara Beach, Vik
I recently traveled to the “land of ice and fire”; Iceland. The land where disoriented puffins achieve clarity by being thrown like footballs out to sea (for real!). The land where people eat fermented shark (one small piece cleared my sinuses), as well as rye bread ice cream (soooo good). It seems to be a land of extremes. But ultimately, a land of utter natural beauty.
On our trip, My niece and I went on excursions to see and explore the island. And as I usually see and experience my world through a spiritually-tinted glass, one particular place stood out to me for just that reason (more on that in a minute).
Iceland, an island in the North Atlantic, is virtually, tree-less. One can panoramically see the horizon from any vantage point. However, this was not always the case for the country. Once upon a time, long ago, the island had thick forests. Vikings, the early inhabitants, cleared these forests to build dwellings, for farming and grazing pastures for sheep and to warm their homes. In a span of 400 years, according to our tour guide, these forests were gone, never to return. As a result, without the roots of the trees to stabilize the soil, Iceland suffers from soil erosion at a rapid pace. Another driving force of this erosion, due to its isolated geographical location, are the mighty (MIGHTY) winds Iceland is subjected to, which brings me to Reynisfjara.
Reynisfjara is a black sand (lava) beach, just outside the village of Vik, in Southern Iceland. Formed as lava raced to the ocean and cooled as it reached the water, the “sand” is actually black pebbles and stones. There will be neither sunbathing, nor swimming at this beach. The Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic meet, and seem very angry to be doing so. The generated turbulent waves can be rogue; not following the pattern of lapping the shoreline and receding in a rhythmic , predictable fashion. Signs scream at you to be “ALERT” and “AWARE” of the water because in a few seconds you could be claimed by the sea and never seen again. (Four persons have lost their lives within the last five years here.)
Coupled with the water danger, is that mighty wind I spoke of earlier. I have never experienced wind so strong and determined. I found myself being pushed to the shoreline through no effort of my own. At first, I didn’t realize where the wind was taking me. I just marveled at the force of it, my inexperience of it and the power of it. And isn’t that like life? When we find ourselves in situations we cannot even trace the origins of? We can be pulled along by the inertia of circumstance, unaware of the dangers to our emotional, mental, and sometimes, physical health. Just going with the flow because we are tired or bored or just worn down by the routine. When a wind gust caused the black sand/pebbles to pelt my face, I snapped out of the trance. I realized where I was headed. “Oh, no you wont! I will live and not die!” (Psalms 118:17) I said it in a joking manner, but I meant it!!!! I had to change my position, physically and mentally. I had to turn my body into the wind and purpose my mind to get back to a safe distance, safe from harm.
Now, I am not a petite, delicate flower of a woman and I struggled to walk against the wind. It was a fight. It was the OPPOSITE of the ease of going with the flow. You and I are called to be sober and diligent, in our respective fight, so we are not devoured (1 Peter 5:8). You and I are called to suit up for battle, armed with the right weapons (Ephesians 6). You and I are called to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). You and I are called to stand (Ephesians 6:13). When the wind was too strong for me to make headway going forward, I just stood, braced and facing it. After a moment, guess what? I was able to push through. And you will too. When I reached the tour bus, I felt like I’d gone a few rounds with a heavyweight. I won though. And you will too.