In my recent surfing trip to the Mentawai’s, I intended to surf a whole lot, and “exhale”. I haven’t exactly figured out what I mean by exhaling. But over the two weeks I started to gain a little insight into what exhaling would mean for me.

The Fast Boat

On arriving in the Sumatra city of Padang, we got on a “Fast Boat” to the land camp we would be staying on in the Mentawai islands. When we were about 15km’s from our destination, a few things began to filter through my mind. I thought about the other 200 passengers on this ferry and wondered about their lives on this remote island 65 km off the coast of Sumatra. What do these peoples lives look like on this fairly poor and remote island? What are their stories? What have they suffered?

Tough Conversations

My mind then drifted onto many of the difficult conversations I have had with people over the past 40 years. The tensions, the unfulfilled expectations, the hurt that I unwittingly inflicted upon others and the hurts that others inflicted upon me.

A few days later and reading from Richard Rohr’s book, “The Divine Dance” some more light shone into my head and heart. Rohr writes that you will have two mystical experiences when drawn into Union with God.

Awe and Wonder

The first is “awe and wonder”. Sounds like two, but he counts them as one. These elements of awe and wonder by their very existence are mystical. And, I think the older I get, the more conscious I have become in seeking and finding awe and wonder in my daily life.


The second is “suffering”. Here Rohr says, unless we find the mystery of God in suffering, suffering can shut down the soul. In many ways suffering, like awe and wonder, is also mystical!

Invitation to mystery

My point is, awe and wonder are fairly familiar invitations to the mystery of God. Suffering is both familiar and mystical. But, as I sat in this paradise, hoping to surf my brains out and exhale, I knew, it is my suffering that locks me in and could potentially “shut down” my soul. It is my suffering that I haven’t quite reconciled.

I knew, if I am to exhale, I will need to know more what it means to find “soul restoration”, through the mystery of suffering.

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