fools gold

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The majestic skyline blazed with amber rays piercing the weaker retreating clouds as the body of water sat between us, holding the dangerous sky fire at bay. At least that’s what it looked like. It appeared to be the perfect piece of water flying over it at over 30,000 feet.

Most people probably thought or think the same thing I did. Out in the middle of the desert, a massive lake with few inhabitants. It could have been this continent over a hundred years ago. The peaceful water, the rugged mountains that stood guard between the water and sky that only God could create, resembled a battle in the other dimension. Maybe it was… but not for that God forsaken piece of water below us… That was fool’s gold.

I’d been fooled by it before, so while I enjoyed the spectacular view, I knew the truth behind at least part of it; The Salton Sea… It’s in the middle of the dry southwest desert and it’s not fresh water. Like the name implies, it’s salt water. It sits like the devil’s triangle between Blythe, Palm Springs, and El Centro, California.

I remember being excited to go there as a kid, but the excitement quickly faded, beginning with smelling it even before we got there. The adults called it sulfur, we described it by swearing someone had gone to the bathroom in their pants… The visions of playing on the sandy beaches also faded abruptly when we discovered a white, salty crust covered shoreline.

I think we tried to fish, but the memory escaped me for sure. I just recall the reality of life; things aren’t always what they appear. That memory caught up with me in the clouds riding a commercial jet over the Salton Sea about halfway through my trip.

“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” I asked the guy next to me. He leaned over to get a better view, “Sure is!” he agreed. I’ve seen many things in my life that aren’t always what they seem, that was just one of the first ones. I’ve been fooled by my fair share of things in life; from cars and trucks to animals and people. How they look doesn’t give a real indication as to how they work.

The grim reality of getting duped or taken advantage of leaves a life long memory. Of all the ways we’ve been fooled in our lives by judging a book based on its cover, the most prevalent one is our fellow man. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been fooled by the appearance and even actions of another person in their life.

It’s the reality of life in our fallen world and after one too many times of being duped we become aware, wise, and often cynical. It seems evident when we pass beyond wisdom into the realm of cynicism, we begin to become hardened, crusted, like the shoreline around the Salton Sea.

Regardless of what I know of the shortcomings of the scene below, I can still see the beauty of it… So it should be with our fellow man; not perfect, but still made in the image of our Creator.

How can the sight be anything less than miraculous?