Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is the world’s largest man-made geothermal mineral bath and listed in National Geographic as one of the world’s Twenty-Five Wonders.Many people travel to Iceland in January in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights, but we have good friends who went last January and didn’t see a single streak of midnight light, so Alan and I were happy to go in August, when the  thermostat doesn’t dip so low and the daylight hours are luxuriously long.  Iceland in August is unforgettable, and among the dozens of delights we enjoyed, savoring a day lulling in the legendary Blue Lagoon was right up there at the top. The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most visited attractions, and people come from all over the world to enjoy the ambience and healing waters.                                                    How does it work? Well, the lagoon is filled with sea water channeled from over a mile underground, past a volcanic lava flow that super-heats it to a searing 464°F. The water is used to generate power at the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station and then cooled to 100°F. before being pumped into the lagoon.  The Blue Lagoon is built into a black basaltic lava field that’s thought to be 800 years old and looks natural (for a moonscape) as well as ethereal.  The pools contain 9 million liters of water, which are circulated through the baths and then discarded, completely renewing the lagoon every 40 hours.  The result is an enormous “spa” with luxuriously warm waters rich with algae and mineral deposits like sulfur and silica (which gives the water it’s beautiful, milky-blue color).  If you’re squeamish about modesty (like I am), you can relax. The changing rooms are divided by gender, and everybody wears a bathing suit.  Each person is given a fluffy, white, warm bathrobe (hanging on left) for wearing before and after entering the pool, which was comforting even in August!      Complimentary silica-mud is distributed if you want to try a face mask,         and refreshments are available at their swim up bar in the pool.  There’s also a fresh-water drinking fountain in the pool if you feel dehydrated. There are walkways around the lagoon, although lava is sharp, so you’d need shoes and warm wraps before attempting a hike. Now, perhaps some of you who find this post are researching Iceland and are considering a visit to the Blue Lagoon. I hope you go and love it! However, there may be others who won’t. Either way, I’d like to share that there is a place even more restful and wonderful than the Blue Lagoon, and that’s  the spiritual rest that Jesus offers: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).  That doesn’t mean we never work anymore, but that does mean that we don’t “work” in order to obtain our salvation! Jesus has provided for us through his death on the cross, so we can stop trying to be “perfect.” Mud baths are unnecessary; we can be washed clean through His cleansing power!Instead of trying to “work” our way to heaven, we need to completely relax. Jesus died for us. He is our healing water, and He will hold us up. He provides clean, white robes for us! He gives us the pure water of life to drink. All we have to do is believe: Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28-29).There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.11 Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11).

 

(Photo Credits: Two of the photos I used appear on multiple sites, and I couldn’t trace it back to the original photographer to ask permission. However, I’m going to link them back to the most likely options I found:

Photo #1: https://wakeupreykjavik.com/iceland-in-january/

Photo # 3: https://www.travelandleisure.com/flight-deals/cheap-flights-icelandair-northern-lights

The rest are mine, taken on our trip last August.)

Never Smile at a Crocodile…Even If You’re in a Big Boat

Have you ever wondered why they say, “Never smile at a crocodile!”? Crocodiles can measure more than 20 feet long and weigh up to 4,400 pounds. Australian crocodiles have the world’s strongest bite, up to 8,000 psi (pounds of pressure per square inch). In the water, it’s alleged they can swim as fast as dolphins, and on land they’ve been known to take down animals as large as cape buffaloes. Crocodiles are extremely aggressive, and humans are on the menu. So…that’s why you should never smile at a crocodile! They’re deadly.                Although I have no penchant for befriending crocodiles,  peering down at them (from the safety of a big bridge) while  they bask in the sun along the Tarcoles River is  a popular tourist attraction in Costa Rica.  Because of the abundant wildlife, if you can put aside your fear  of crocodiles, a cruise down the Tarcoles River is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Alan and I weren’t the first to board, but I noticed that the front seats were still available. Perhaps it was in hopes that if a crocodile attacked our craft, he would be too full after eating those of us in the front seats to want dessert. Whatever the reasons, Alan and I were happy to enjoy front row seating on our adventure! There’d been a torrential downpour that drenched everybody earlier, but late afternoon was beautiful, and the ride was soothing…magnificent even!    We caught sight of a ring-tailed lemur sitting in a tree with his back to us,        and there were herds of Brahman cattle with their faces to us,                                         watching us curiously as we drifted by.     The steep banks of the river were pitted with holes where swallows nested…       as well as all sorts of colorful birds, like this stout little green heron.    In fact, there was a veritable river bank run going on with creatures galore! I’m not sure if it was the highlight or lowlight, but we did see lots of crocodiles.   Although most stayed at a respectable distance, one came over to check us out.         In fact, he came right over to check me out, but I didn’t smile. 😦 Thankfully, he took the hint and left. Really, though, I think he would gladly have eaten me for lunch except the boat was a lot bigger than he was. The afternoon passed all too quickly, and soon it was time to return to the ship. I am thankful that I don’t have to swim in the river of this life without protection!     Anyone who asks can be sheltered by the protective care of God our Father. It really isn’t any safer to swim down the stream of life alone than it would be to swim down the Tarcoles River. (See the crocodile hiding behind that snag?) (This is a close up from the last photo.) In the Bible, we learn that someday “the great dragon…that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” will be cast out (Revelation 12:9), but until that day, we are in need of a refuge, because Satan is even stronger and more deadly than a crocodile.    Thankfully, our day ended with a gorgeous sunset and no further excitement.     Although we were very late, our ship didn’t sail away without us. Praise God!                          Back on the ship, we were able to get clean, dry, warm, and fed!

Want a refuge from the storms and dangers of life? God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof” (Psalm 46:1-3).

In John 6, the disciples were in a boat but frightened during a storm at sea and asked Jesus for help. He rescued them, and in that chapter we learn this lesson: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28-29).

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
(Acts 16:31)

The Romantic River Seine is Raging

Notre Dame Gargoyle overlooking The Seine RiverThis morning’s Daily Mail from the UK reported this chilling bit of news: River Seine flooding. Daily Mail Photo*18 people have died across Europe as a result of last week’s torrential rains, City View of The Seine Riverand “its warned River Seine could swell to 21 feet above its normal level.” Daily Mail photo of River Seine Flooding*Last night, the flood was 6.10 meters (20 feet) high. Trees lining The Seine River(Compare the above picture to this picture I took a few weeks ago.)Entree du port de la Rochelle. Paul SignacI can’t imagine this is happening, but it is. Eiffel Tower along Seine RiverI’d been working on a post about the romantic Seine, but now it’s on a rampage. Louvre Museum. ParisThe Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, where we visited under blue skies last month, The Musée d'Orsayare shut down and dozens of volunteers are scrambling to save Portrait de l'artiste. Vincent Van Gogh. 1889some 38,000 works of art by transporting them to higher floors. The Pantheon along the River SeineThe Grand Palais exhibition center, two National Libraries, Paris by Night from Eiffel Towerand some of the subways have also shut down. The Seine River and the Eiffel TowerJPGWhat was so life-giving and peaceful has become deadly! Walking along the River SeingBut, let me back up and tell you about my experience of the River Seine in May
and then bring us back to today.  River Seine winds through FranceThe River Seine winds like a silver snake from Source-Seine for 777 km Seine empties into English ChannelJPGthrough Paris and out to the English Channel at La Havre. Flying Across English Channel to France at SunsetWhen we flew across the channel from London,
River Seine from the airit was the striking focal point of my enraptured gaze (since I mustn’t stare at the sun); I sat transfixed, watching it shimmer in the sunset. The Seine River along fertile farmlandThe Seine River nourishes all the fertile farmland of the Paris Basin, The Seine River, like a silver snakeand from time immemorial it’s been France’s major commercial shipping artery. River Seine as seen from the airThe Lower Seine is dredged, so it’s navigable by ocean-going vessels to Rouen, The Seine River is widewhich is 75 miles inland from the English Channel. River Seine BoatsSmaller vessels can ply the river’s waterways past Rouen, through Paris,
and much beyond.Painter painting The Seine RiverThe River Seine is a celebrated destination for painters and lovers alikeVincent Van Gough La Nuit étoilé "The Starry Night" 1888because it symbolizes all that is romance and beauty in Paris! Aerial view of River SeineThis magnificent river cuts through the heart of Paris, Seine as seen from the airroughly dividing the city in half, with the “Left Bank” being the southern half,
or the “left” bank if you’re looking downstream (although this view is upstream). River Seine wide and deepHistorically, the Left Bank was the Latin Quarter, dwelling place of artists, Standing on Bridge overlooking The Seine Riverwriters, poets, philosophers and students…the creative dreamers and thinkers. Chimera overlooking The Seine RiverThe Right Bank is alive with commerce and business. Paris from the AirBut, just like the “right brain” and “left brain” myths have been debunked, The Seine River flowing through the heart of Paristhe Left Bank and Right Bank have succumbed to the “East” and “West,” Sidewalk lined with artwork along The Seine Riverand although there are still distinct flavors to each side, The Seine River at Nightthe city is brimming with life, business, and feasting late into the night
on both sides of the River Seine. Rue des Lombards at NightWe stayed on rue des Lombards almost under the shadow of Notre Dame
on the Right Bank, but I dare say the streets were still overflowing at midnight! 37 Bridges along River Seine in ParisWithin the city of Paris, there are 37 bridges across the Seine, Pont Neuf Bridge in Paristhe oldest being Pont Neuf, dating back to 1607. River Seine WalkWhen we visited in May, we stayed in the heart of the city and walked along the Seine every day to reach our destinations, most of which were near the river! Taking picture of The Seine RiverIt never once crossed my mind to fear the river. Tour Boat plying The Seine RiverIt was beautiful, nurturing…full of vitality and life! Road along The Seine RiverIn some ways, that reminds me of how I feel about Jesus,
who is “the way, the truth, and the life”  (John 14:6). Cars driving along The Seine RiverHowever, there’s a second half to John 14:6, and that says,
“No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Bridge across The Seine RiverThose who trust in Him can go safely to the Father in peace. Spire of Notre Dame overlooking The Seine RiverBut, God will reject those who refuse his Son, Chestnut trees along The Seine Riverand at the end of the world, there will be torrential downpour of judgment more deadly than the River Seine when it rages.
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24)  

River Seine and Paris from airAnd the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:  For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17)   La Seine a Herblay. Maximilien LuceAnd I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20: 11-12;15)  Boats along the River SeineThen said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him [Jesus] whom he [God] hath sent.” (John 6:28-29)

(*The two photos labeled AFP images and Golf Photos are from today’s Daily Mail, June 30, 2016, found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3625100/Paris-drowning-Workers-build-makeshift-bridges-swollen-River-Seine-reach-stricken-areas-France-suffers-worst-floods-100-years-forcing-city-total-shutdown.html The rest are from our trip to France in May, 2016.)