I read a story this morning that was written in 2005, about a lost and traumatized baby hippo in Kenya, who “adopted” a tortoise to be his mother. An elderly male, the tortoise is said to be a century old.
“They sleep and eat together, and have become inseparable” says the director of the nature preserve.
As if that’s not moving enough, I'm tearful after learning further that this baby had survived a tsunami-ravaged river that swept him into the Indian Ocean where tides eventually washed him ashore. Dehydrated but hanging on, rescuers found him on the beach (and brought him to the nature
This is a tug at the strings story for me. And when I step back, I find it interesting that both tragedy and miracle are (now in my heart) here in this story—two seemingly opposing forces. And a third force, inspiration, is here as well.
So, is inspiration born of tragedy and miracle?
If you're like me, your favorite stories are about true-life characters overcoming adversity.
Why do those stories appeal? Because there’s something truly amazing and life affirming and heart-filling about knowing that others have faced what seemed like insurmountable obstacles, and not only survived, but found deeper meaning.
It’s hardly ever easy to recognize the worth of something tragic while in the middle of it. No tsunami, loss, or pain feels like it’s going to lead to something positive.
But, for whatever it’s worth, I know that “worth” cannot be measured until later when the dust has settled, when we are no longer in survival mode, and as we move forward with living.
There’s an old Jewish saying, “Gamzu l’tovah” which means, “This too is for the good.”
It’s about leaving room in the moment for faith, hope and God, and about acceptance that the grand-scheme-of-things picture is not completely ours to design. But that it is one that ultimately leads to meaning.
While baby hippos might not specifically rely on inspiration and faith while riding out storms, what does seem intrinsic to the nature of all living beings is to do one’s best to survive (when there is nothing one can do to change what is) by going with the flowing. Tsunamis are devastating, but they too pass.
Finally, isn’t it true that we’re hardly ever inspired by our own life stories? That’s because we’re always still living them.
But why not step back and realize how far we’ve come ourselves? Recognizing the journey and wisdom gained through our own storms is a powerful force that is not just miraculous in some cases, but also truly empowering where inspiration leaves off.
Lisa M. Miller* *Mind-Body Health Specialist*Teacher*Chaplain