Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mediated Reality

Yesterday Isaac, Martha and I spent the afternoon getting really sunburned at a local beach, captivated by a dolphin show. For the first time in 2 years we saw a pod (I think that's what you call a flock of dolphins) cavorting and playing, jumping and splashing and even surfing. Yes, I saw some dolphins inside of breaking waves as they built up to the shore. It also happened that a surfing school was out on their boards for the first time, and the instructor wisely pointd all his students seaward for the show. Did the dolphins know they were performing?
How long did the show last? I have no clue. It was timeless (we got really sunburned and did notice till it ws over) and captivating. How many times have we seen carefully cropped, digitally enhanced photos of dolphins jumping? How many aquariums have trained sea-life that jumps much higher with bigger splashes on command? How many national geographic specials have we watched with telephoto lenses and background music with a deep-voiced narrator telling us what we were seeing? That's mediated, massaged, manipulated reality, carefully condensed and packaged for our quick consumption. It is even satisfying to the effect that after watching a "show" we say to others that we now know what this natural phenomenon is like. Until the real breaks in.
That's been truth for the northern lights, shooting stars, moon-dogs, tornados, moose, and a host of other things I have been privileged to happen upon. When it happens, the transcendent falls, my pulse-rate quickens and I know this is special. The same is true with God. We crave...are made for a direct experience with God, not something finely crafted and carefully mediated into a 60 minute "performance". We need to be held captive by our holy God till we get "son-burned" by the exposure.


At 9:56 PM , Blogger Isaac Johnson said...

Perhaps the coolest part was heading out into the water.

The dolphins had passed by then, but were still nearby. I swam out as far as I could still touch bottom, a little farther than the boarders were.

Between the swells I could hear the dolphins surfacing, barely making wake, then that puff and heavy breathing. I managed to hone in on their proximity not visually but audibly.

Perhaps my stongest memory of the day was the smell of fish that preceded their presence and that almost human sounding gasp of air before they dove.

more pictures starting here:

At 9:57 PM , Blogger Isaac Johnson said...


(forgot to hyperlink it)

At 9:50 AM , Anonymous Anna S. said...

I am so Jealous.

At 3:25 PM , Blogger Jane said...

Thanks, Don and Isaac, for sharing your pictures and experience with the dolphins.

I enjoy reading your Jibstay reflections, but have yet to post a comment. Your experience reminded me of the FPCC Alaska mission trip in 2003. On a day off we had the opportunity to go on a Kenai Fjord tour. During the cruise a large pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins surrounded the boat. The captain explained that this was a rare occurrence. So it was an exciting time for passengers and crew.

It is awesome when God puts us in the right place at the right time to experience Him through His creation, and to share these experiences with family and friends.

With memories of special times on the Lake Michigan beach with the Johnson's, Jane


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