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Angels in the Galapagos

A recent divorcee finds angelic healing while watching dolphins play in the waves in the Galapagos Islands.

Angels in the Galapagos

Raphael, one of our guides on board ship, announced at dinner, “If anybody’s awake at midnight come to the bow. There’s something cool I’d like to show you.” 

The other guests at the table nodded their heads and went on talking. I suppose they figured they’d had enough interesting sights for a day. We were on a cruise in the Galapagos, famed for its unusual birds and wildlife.

We’d already visited one of the remote volcanic islands and seen some of the reptiles and plants that always captivated visitors, but now people were more interested in hanging out. 

Not me. I was restless. I was on board ship partly because it was my job. I worked for the company that booked the tourists, and I liked to check things out. But that wasn’t all. I was here on the high seas because I needed to get away from home.

I was going through a divorce. It was painful to end my 12-year marriage. Things were as amicable as they could be, but I was worried about my future. Where was I going to live? How would I start over again? Would I be lonely?

It was hard to look ahead. I’d lost my bearings. I felt stuck, in a rut, without any of the enthusiasm I used to have for life. 

“Something cool?” I said to Raphael. “Okay, count me in.” 

The travel business had always exhilarated me. I’d climbed snowcapped mountains and hiked rain forests. I’d shepherded tourists to almost every corner of the globe, and I never got jaded.

This was my sixth trip to the Galapagos, and I was still intrigued by the wildlife on these remote islands off the coast of Ecuador. Not only were the animals rare and magnificent, but they were completely unafraid of humans and easy to view close up.

I wished I could put my own worries to rest so that I could appreciate God’s universe like I used to. The failure of my marriage had robbed me of the joy I used to find in a limitless horizon or the roll of a ship cutting through the sea. 

Maybe the “something cool” Raphael had promised would help.

I went to my cabin to read for a bit, then wandered back outside. I met Raphael at the bow of the ship at the appointed time. A few other guests were standing around. “How much longer do we have to wait?” they asked.

“I can’t say for sure,” Raphael said in his thick Galapagos accent. “This is nature’s surprise. Perhaps it won’t even happen.” 

The others eventually wandered off. Raphael and I waited at the bow alone. I wondered if it was silly to linger behind for something that might not happen. Like the hopes I’d once held for my marriage or my job, all that I once believed in.

I looked up. A warm, salt-tinged breeze blew through my hair and the stars blazed across a velvet sky. 

“Look, it’s getting pretty late,” I said to Raphael, “and we have a full day tomorrow.” 

“Stay.” He put his hand gently on my forearm. “It will be worth it.” 

“Okay.” I needed to pull myself out of my torpor and find my way again. Somehow I had become like a sailor who had lost his chart. All my fears had gotten the best of me. I closed my eyes and spoke to the power behind the ocean and the star-studded sky. Show me how to feel joy again. 

All at once Raphael let out a breathy laugh. “Here they are!” he exclaimed. I leaned forward and looked down at the dark water. At first I could see nothing, then I spotted streaks of light coming straight for the ship.

Arrows in brilliant blue-green phosphorescence coming straight for us. Like a torpedo in a World War II movie, right before the ship blows up.

“It’s the dolphins playing in the waves,” Raphael said. “Their movement lights up the phosphorescent plankton.” 

The dolphins swam to the bow of the ship and then rode the waves off the front, lighting up the water like millions of stars or fireworks. It seemed as though the star-studded heavens had fallen into the ocean and the angels had come to frolic at our feet.

All the joy I’d been missing came back to me in an instant. I was alive again, hopeful. My fears had somehow evaporated. I still didn’t have any answers. Didn’t know where I’d move or how I would live, but I knew somehow that things would be all right.

The Creator who was in charge of these wonderful creatures was also in control of my life. I watched the dolphins swim and jump, and I felt more at peace than I had in months.

As quickly as they’d come, the dolphins darted away, leaving tears of wonder in my eyes. “Was it worth it?” Raphael asked as the water resumed its blackness and the stars returned to the sky.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” I told my friend, who, by the way, appeared to have been very well named.

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