Where Iraq Meets the Atlantic
I have talked about things bring me peace amidst the struggles of life in recent days and in one post I briefly mentioned that while running on the beach in Emerald Isle it was the place where in that moment “Iraq met the Atlantic.”
It has been nearly 5 years since I left Iraq in February of 2008 but there are times that it feels like I have never left and times when I would like to be back there. I have always loved the ocean and the desert. For some reason the vast expanses of barren desert and the untamed ocean draw me to them like nothing else.
I have struggled with a lot over the past 5 years. However as I mentioned recently it seems that things are coming together in ways that I have never could have fathomed even a few months ago. On Wednesday I needed to take a day off to reflect and gather my thoughts after a particularly cathartic sequence of events. One of the things that I did that day was to rest, but then to run along the beach where I live.
I mentioned to a couple of people that it was like Iraq met the Atlantic and they didn’t understand, until I showed the pictures. I guess though that the juxtaposition of the Western Desert of Iraq, sometimes known as the Syrian Desert and the Atlantic Ocean would seem strange to most people, unless they have experienced both in their stark beauty.
I ran about seven and a half miles Wednesday along the beach and it was breathtaking. The deep blue skies and seas met with the desert tan of the sands of the beach. There were few people out that day so the beach was nearly deserted and I was alone with nature and God. It has been many years since I felt that depth of peace in my soul that I felt on Wednesday.
I really can’t explain it and most people will probably never understand and I have learned that such a lack of understanding is okay. There is a big part of me that is still in the Iraqi desert and will always be there. There in the land of Abraham, amid the barren deserts, the rich valley of the Euphrates river valley, the battered cities and town of war torn Al Anbar Province many of my hopes and dreams still live. When I ran along the beach that day it was like I had returned, but instead of being traumatic it was peaceful.
I pray for the people of Iraq, especially those in Al Anbar Province and the Iraqi military. I pray that they will know peace and that their country, so long victimized by tyrants, devastated by war and torn by terrorism and civil-religious strife will be a place of blessing.
As T.E. Lawrence wrote about 85 years ago: “We were fond together because of the sweep of open places, the taste of wide winds, the sunlight, and the hopes in which we worked. The morning freshness of the world-to-be intoxicated us. We were wrought up with ideas inexpressible and vaporous, but to be fought for. We lived many lives in those whirling campaigns, never sparing ourselves: yet when we achieved and the new world dawned, the old men came out again and took our victory to remake in the likeness of the former world they knew. Youth could win, but had not learned to keep, and was pitiably weak against age. We stammered that we had worked for a new heaven and a new earth, and they thanked us kindly and made their peace.”