Friday, March 11, 2011
Hurricanes in Paradise...
The worse physical storm I remember was Hurricane Hugo. I lived through it huddled in the small hallway of my parent's home with my two brothers. I was in college at The University of South Carolina, and my parent's lived, and still do, in the small horse town of Camden about two hours inland. My older brother was a cadet at The Citadel and had come to Camden to seek refuge because Charleston was where the eye of the storm was expected to come through. Little did we know the impact we would feel from this powerful storm all the way in the inner sanctum of our state. Sometimes there is just no way of getting away from storms. They just kind of find you it seems.
I've learned life is that way too. Life holds within it storms. They are no respecter of person or address or occupation. They just show up. Sometimes out of the blue. Sometimes you can have a little preparation, but no matter how they come the wake is the same. And the impact on the heart can be as well.
When I was in the middle of writing my book "The Will of Wisteria", that was actually set in Charleston, I realized that my thirteen year marriage was going to come to a heartbreaking end. It wasn't part of the picture and it sure wasn't a storm that I was emotionally prepared for. The grief of that experience washed over with me in its rude and uninvited way. And left me in the middle of my greatest hurricane. I honestly didn't know if I'd ever have a creative idea again. Most writer's write from deep wells of inspiration. Visions in the soul. Dreams in the gut. But I had nothing in the soul but aching pain. And the only dream I had was the dream of not hurting...ever again.
So, I walked away from books. I needed a respite. A place to heal the soul. I did write. Yeah, I wrote in my journal everyday. The only place I knew to lay the residue of my pain. But story...there was no story. Until I got an invitation from a friend to take a free trip to The Atlantis Hotel at Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I went. I may have been hurting but I wasn't stupid! And the first night, sitting there at dinner with three other single women, I knew I had a story. And the creativity in my soul roared back to life. For the next four days I absorbed every piece of the sights and sounds and smells and rhythm that is The Atlantis Hotel. And every morning, I would stare out at the massive ocean, and let the power of story wash over me, and the healing of the salt air make its way over my wounded spirit.
What I did know looking out at that massive ocean was one minute it could be calm and peaceful and the next it could level anything in its path. And that is the story I wrote. Stories of soul hurricanes and stories of real hurricanes.
The debris of my divorce ended up in a book as well. Those journals that I was writing, when I had nothing creative to write...well, they eventually became a book too. "Flying Solo: A Journey of Divorce, Healing and A Very Present God." A book about the figurative hurricanes that life sends out way. And how healing is available to us all.
For the people of Japan we pray for you today. We pray that as your people rise up from the rubble and devastation that you now know, you will discover the amazing strength that abides in your very core. In fact, we would never actually know the strength that is in the soul of us, unless the Hurricane had forced it to rise to the surface....May you find your Paradise in your Hurricane.
Denise Hildreth Jones' seventh novel "The First Gardner" will hit bookstores in August 2011. She makes her home in Franklin, TN with her husband and five bonus children. She loves reading a good book, drinking a cold Coca-Cola and every now and then she writes a few books...