• John Ryan

Day 60: Bioluminescence

Updated: Jun 15, 2018

15 April, 2018



Wow, what a difference a day can make. Not even a day, but a few hours, that are well directed and blessed.


I have so much to say and not enough energy to say it. I will start with a lesson learned, which I do not want to forget. Then, I will go through some events: troubling times, others where I saw God’s glory, and some simple things that refresh my soul.


First, something I relearned is how inspiring and energizing new experiences can be. If I approach these new experiences with positivity and patience, I can learn and appreciate more than by sticking to ruts of repetition. Simple enough, but easy for me to forget.


My first extended stay in Haiti, just before the earthquake of 2010, I had similar feelings of being stagnant and alone and that I was just doing the “same old thing.”


Sometimes the “same old thing” can be positive, forming a platform of steadiness to build our life upon. When I speak of this type of thing, I speak of home. I speak of Roxana, Bennett, and I soaking in the beauty of each day in our little house in a town where not much happens. Yes, the reliable and love filled place makes up the majority of life. And how glad I am that it does.


But, there are other times, where I live in the same daily routines that do no bring me peace, that do not build me up. At those times (like me sitting in my room in Haiti each night missing my family, me going to the same restaurants here that have not introduced me to many friends, me running through the motions until my time here ends), I feel more suffering than joy. Selfishly, I want to think I am suffering for some good purpose, that my research and little bits of service contribute to something. I hope that my actions do contribute, but my self-pity never will. Too often, I sit in these same old things without making the movements that produce or reveal new experiences.




For example: I have been a $5 and 30 minute ride from a beautiful beach town. Why haven’t I gone? Granted, it has its own problems, which would get difficult after a while. But, there are beautiful things and beautiful moments I have missed because of… I don’t know… fear? pride?... maybe just inertia. Newton can be bit of a jerk sometimes. A shameful side of me tells me it is because this country is “difficult.” I hear it often from other Americans here, and I have commiserated myself. Then I remind myself quickly how I have similar tendencies at home: the new becomes mundane and difficult. The annoyances of life build to a point they are no longer avoided and surpass the beauty I see. It is not Haiti, it life anywhere, especially in a culture not my own.


So, today, I decided to make new movements. I made a change. After all, no one held me in this room except myself. Today I was reminded of the opportunities lying before me to grasp. Today, I:



- Travelled with a family here to attend a church service, where I met a Danish nurse and a French music teacher that chimed in to hymns with notes from a flute tied around his neck.

- Ate delicious “country chicken” from the garden, red beets, carrots, rice, and sauce

- Played with some of the local kids and colored

- Had a tough conversation that needed to happen

- Rented an inexpensive room in a little motel where no one knew who I was

- Walked along irrigation ditches for miles to reach the beach

- Admired the light reflecting from rice paddies

- Ate conch off the grill (sure it possibly made me rather ill, but at the moment it was sublime!)

- Met people flying homemade kites on the beach




And as I walked back to my room in the dark, I stopped to stand in that space between ocean and land, the transient boundary between worlds oscillating with each wave. The longer my eyes adjusted, the more the brighter the waves became. And the brightness continued to increase, the waves giving off a blue-green glow with each crash on land. And I realized that for the third time in my life, I was witnessing bioluminescence. Microscopic organisms in the water shook and chemical reactions in their bodies combined to illuminate the water. What a gift to a weary soul.