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Revelations: Finding God's awesomeness in trip to aquarium

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Aug. 12, 2011 at 3:12 a.m.

Victoria Advocate reporter Jennifer Preyss encounters a beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

BY JENNIFER PREYSS

About three years ago in Atlanta, I went on a date to the Georgia Aquarium. It seemed like a harmless enough place for two strangers to get to know one another, after all.

I remember enjoying the afternoon strolling through the world's largest fish tank with my date, gasping in awe of God's beautifully designed creatures at each exhibit.

Some of the animals were large, others small; some were cute, others creepy. But each were distinctive, and reminded me of His awesome creativity.

Then we approached the beluga whale tank.

I stood for a long moment at the base of the tremendous tank, gazing at the white whales as they danced through the water.

For the life of me, I can't remember my date's name, and only vaguely recall what he looks like (obviously not true love), but I do remember a conversation we shared while staring at the beluga whales.

"You really like them, huh?" he asked me.

"They're amazing." I responded softly, my gaze frozen on the whales. "I don't know how anyone can watch huge sea life like this, so close up, and not believe in God."

My comment kicked off an extensive discussion (in front of the dancing whales), about the existence of God and how awesome He is. Not in a heal-the-sick, bring-the-rain kind of way way (although those things are definitely awesome). But in a God-designed-the-whole-freaking universe, way.

Throughout the entire conversation, my eyes remained transfixed on the whales. They were beautiful creatures, of course, but for me, they represented more than beauty. In their delicate movements, and distinctive markings and personalities, I only saw God. I saw the connection between animals and God, between humans and animals, between God and his billions of children. That's pretty awesome, right?

Last weekend, I returned to the aquarium with my family, excited to revisit my beloved white whales.

When I reached the tank, crowds surrounded the exhibit, and I couldn't get close to them like I wanted to.

My sister guided me to the Ocean Ballroom attached to the rear of the whale tank, and smiled at me as I realized I'd have my own private room to watch them swim.

The view was smaller, but I didn't mind. It was just me, my siblings and the whales.

We sat on the floor in silence, watching the whales swim around the tank.

Each time they'd swim near us, I'd hear them sing through the glass.

"They're known as the canaries of the sea," my sister, a former employee of the aquarium, explained. "They'll talk to you through the glass."

I asked her if the whales could hear and see us, she said they absolutely could see us as clearly as we saw them.

As I sat in awe of the whales, and thought about God's awesomeness for a second time, a truly awesome thing happened: One of the whales said hello.

At first the whale started swimming a little closer to me, then swam past me in the tank. But each time he approached, he swam a little nearer to me; his gazes and speed becoming a little slower.

Then he stopped right in front of me, and pushed his little face against the tank. We stared at each other for about 60 seconds, and I stood up and placed my hand against the tank.

I couldn't believe it.

The whale eventually swam away, but in our short minute together, I really felt God's awesomeness. I really, really felt it. It was a powerful and peaceful feeling; a feeling of oneness with creation.

On the drive home, I considered whether God was trying to tell me something about his awesomeness. Perhaps I needed to be awed more often, to take more time out of my day to look around and feel small in a great universe erected and designed by God's hand.

So, I'm working on that this week. I'm allowing myself to be inspired and awed by great things in God's world. I'm working on my appreciation for awesomeness in all things, men and creatures alike.

If I can be inspired in 60 seconds of staring at a whale, I can only imagine what God can teach me the rest of the minutes of the day.

Jennifer Preyss is a re porter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com.

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