2.21.2007

beach or dump

Best intentions aside, I only ran a few times while in Belize. Nevertheless the running was pretty amazing. Beaches, palm trees, warm rising suns, and conch shells lying on the sandy roadside made each short run a great adventure.

On my first full day on Ambergris Caye, I ran along the main road that winds out of town to the southern tip of the island. I use the word road very loosely as it reminded me of a footpath in a desert place. Fortunately, I avoided getting trampled by a crazed tourist in a golf cart or one the local taxi drivers in the 17 dusty Ford Aerostar vans on the island.

As I trekked down the road to the south, heading out of town, the sights and the sounds of paradise were all around: the gentle breeze, the coconut trees... I was so thankful to stretch my legs and grateful for good health (and how much more grateful I am today now that I can eat chocolate again). I ran past the resorts and hotels, past the construction and the lagoons. The ocean and its beaches peaking out at the corners. As I neared the end of "out" portion of my "out and back" run, I came upon a sign that made me chuckle at first and then it made me think. If I had a camera you can be assured a photo would have been taken, but the image in nevertheless carved into my mind.

The road forked. One path was smooth (as smooth as a sandy road can be) and lined with shady palm trees. The other was lined with beaten cardboard boxes, bottles, and pieces of shells unsuitable for even the homeless sea creatures. The sign clearly stated: Beach (with an arrow pointing towards the palm trees) Dump (with an arrow pointing to the trash).

I naturally chose the beach route. Why would anyone in their right or appropriately medicated mind choose the dump route? (With the important caveat that you might choose that route to properly dispose of your waste.)

This sign stuck with me for the rest of my trip and I pondered what it meant to choose the beach over the dump. There are obvious connections that you could be choose heaven over hell, good over evil, or life over death. But this seemed too obvious, too superficial, too elementary to me.

A co-worker informed us in our staff meeting today that there is a strong possibility that he will be receiving a call within a few weeks. Roommate informed me today that she is going to interview for an overseas teaching position. Friends from the college years are contemplating their first calls. Decisions, calls, and their consequences linger in the air around me. Sometimes, even when the road forks so clearly and one road is lined with shady palms and the other with yesterday's dirty socks we are still called to walk alongside the socks and their trash-bin companions.

I followed the path that was to lead to me to the beach. Actually, it just led me down a path with more hotels and more construction. Soon, it was time to turn around and head back. I never went back on that road, I opted to run on the beach the rest of the time. I don't know where the dumpy path actually led. Chances are it would have been smellier and perhaps uglier, but it also might have been a whole lot more interesting. I'll never know.

I do know that sign made me reconsider my choices that I make. Sometimes the obviously good choices aren't the best choices. Sometimes they are. The comfort is know that God is by me in both.

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