Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mist

A recent trip to Niagara Falls including the Maid of the Mist boat ride gave me and my family the opportunity to experience an ordinary touristy event. Waiting in line with hundreds of other people, I was amazed at the efficiency with which we were loaded onto the boat. 600 people per ride. Typical, I thought.. This will be fun, I'm sure, but not very eventful. That touristy boat ride was far from typical. It was all about the mist.

We started with a gentle float in front of the Falls on the American side. The sounds were everywhere: the roaring splash of the water, the seagulls' cawing, the hushed chatting of the people behind me. The sights were awe-inspiring: the never-ending dance of the water streaming down the rock formation, the off-white foam, and the smoky mist. I was amazed at the sheer amount of water around me. I smelled the wet air; I sensed the power. The rocks at the bottom of the American Falls made it difficult to get very close, however, and this portion of the ride was more like a wonderful sightseeing tour than an experience.

As we approached the Canadian Falls, which are also called the Horseshoe Falls, the thunderous water sounds were louder; stronger. The echo of the Falls was compounded with the fact that we finally started to get wet. The boat got bouncier. We got closer. The Falls were deafening now. Soaking. We got even closer. My mind argued: "I think we're close enough!" I relaxed for a moment and looked up. Way up. I squinted to glimpse the height of the water falling over the rocks, and looked as long and hard as I could.

Me. The Water. Total surrender. Being drenched and powerless was surprisingly wonderful--like the power of God. One of the definitions of the word "mist" is "something that dims or obscures." Only when I experienced the mist in its authentic form where the view was obscured could I recognize the power and wonder of those waterfalls. I stopped looking in awe and instead started to experience the true power of those Falls.

As we floated back to the dock, all I noticed were the smiles. Wet hair and wet smiles. There is something freeing about allowing for the surrender that I experienced in the Horseshoe Falls. It was different from experiencing God from afar, as with the American Falls. The mist was the most interesting part; I couldn't see through it, but knew there was power behind it. The mist might be something that dims or obscures the view, but it was exactly what allowed me to see the power of God most clearly in that moment. The surrendering; the soaking; the joy--all because of the mist.