First off, I just have to say thanks to Debbie Tanner, who took such amazing pictures of dolphins at Makua Beach several years ago and lets me use them.
It was my birthday. My friend Roxanne drove me to Makua Beach to celebrate.
Makua Beach wraps its lovely sand around a large bay, backed by stunning mountains and fronted by beautiful, blue waters. I love Makua Beach because it’s a place where spinner dolphins play.
All week, I checked and rechecked the surf report to see what conditions would be. I didn’t have to check that often, but I hoped I’d see something besides a prediction for flat water. The surf’s been really flat on the west side of Oahu and I’ve never seen the dolphins when the water is totally flat. I mean, totally flat is ideal for a person with my swimming talent to swim in a bay, but it doesn’t seem to attract the dolphins. A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I watched a glassy horizon for those beautiful creatures for hours in vain.
However, the desire to swim with dolphins on my birthday kept propelling me forward, and Roxanne said she’d take the risk of no sighting. We excitedly journeyed to the end of the island.
Scanning the Horizon at Makua Beach
We made it to our lookout vantage point and scanned every direction across the glassy water. No dolphins.
After a superhero adventure wherein Roxanne and I saved a medium-sized fish from being stuck in a small-sized puddle on top of the rock (that must have been a serious tide!) by using Roxanne’s netted snorkel fin bag, our attention turned back to the sea. To our astonishment and delight, way out, way out, we saw fins shimmering on the water.
The wind picked up. The sky grew overcast. The glassy water turned choppier. The dolphins came to the bay to play on my birthday.
The First Mile
We immediately headed into the water and started swimming out towards the middle of the bay. By the time we got out there, however, the dolphins had cruised all the way across the bay and apparently disappeared. They swim back and forth across the bay, so we hung out chatting and hoping they’d come back. Finally, after waiting 45 minutes or so, we decided to head back to shore.
Suddenly, we saw a dolphin jump out of the water between us and the shore! We clicked into high gear to meet them on their trajectory. We arrived just barely as they flitted around and then hightailed across the bay.
We were so happy for our few moments with them and following them! They are beautiful! Roxanne could hear their song. I’m deaf in one ear and don’t hear high pitches, so I couldn’t hear it.
While following the dolphins, we’d swum pretty far out again, so we meandered back to shore. We got to our bags and I put on my glasses. We both looked towards the sea and saw a large pod coming back across the bay! Should we go back out?
I get seasick on the ocean — whether on boats, boards, or snorkeling. For me, the most effective method to combat the impact is to fast before I go so I don’t have anything in my stomach. But still, the acid starts rising as nausea ensues. I’d been battling it as we’d come to shore. I wasn’t certain how much more sea was left in me.
But the dolphins were right there!!
The Second Mile
Roxanne was game. I was game. We dropped everything in our hands, grabbed the snorkel gear, and rushed back into the sea.
We missed them as they crossed the path in front of us, so we quickly turned and followed after them, pausing to get our bearings (well, pausing while Roxanne got our bearings on the dolphins, since I’m kinda blind without my glasses) and then continuing.
At one point, we stopped and suddenly, we saw fins behind us! We plunged our faces into the water to see a pod swimming underneath us. Within a few moments, we were enveloped by dolphins. They were all around us — below, on the sides, in front of us, behind us. They even surfaced near us, so it felt like they were above us.
They are so beautiful. They were so close that even I could see scars on their bodies and the colorations in their skin and their smiles.
It was glorious.
And then they swam back across the bay. I was getting nauseous and turned towards the shore again, thinking we could swim towards the beach closest to us and then walk to our stuff. But then Roxanne saw them pop up just so close over there.
The Third Mile
So we swam after them again.
Again, for another glorious moment, I couldn’t even see Roxanne because of the dolphins surrounding us!
It’s like they were smiling at us and encouraging us. It’s like they came back for one last moment together. It’s like we were a couple of humans visiting the home of more than two dozen dolphins and they were glad.
It’s like it was a perfect birthday present from Heavenly Father.
Going the Extra Mile Made the Difference
And as I’ve reflected on the experience repeatedly since this morning at Makua Beach, I realized that going the extra mile really made all the difference.
We were so grateful for our initial two or three-minute encounter. I didn’t really expect to see them at all, so to see something on a flat day was miraculous to me.
But the really memorable and glorious moments happened when we stretched beyond what we expected to do. I’ve never gone back into the ocean after snorkeling for that long. But the draw today was so immense. Roxanne and I felt like we could experience more.
I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to catch the first glimpse of a dolphin in the water. I always catch my breath and I can’t believe I’m coexisting with such spectacular creatures.
Then we stretched again and were similarly rewarded again.
Did a Small Glimpse of Glory Suffice?
So many applications came to mind, but specifically, the Holy Ghost asked me where I would rate this week’s prayer and scripture study habit on the glorious dolphin experience rating. Did a small glimpse of glory suffice? Did I rush back into the deep end, stretching my muscles and capacity, expecting even more fulfillment? When I was tired and failing, did I make that one last push to capture an even greater and, then, unexpected experience?
Because the Lord has promised that He would envelop us just like the dolphins did.
[T]here I will be also, for I will go , and my your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left shall be in your hearts, and mine round about you, to bear you up.
Obviously, I can’t swim like a dolphin. But despite my deficiencies, they came to me. The Savior promises to do that, too. When I stretch and reach after Him, He always turns and comes back to me.
He turns back to reach for me because He knows me. And you. He knows we are in deep water, reaching for Him. He knows our capacity and weakness. And still, He saves.
But now thus saith the Lord that created thee…and he that formed thee…Fear not: for I have , I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
When thou passest through the will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the , I , thou shalt not be ; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I am the Lord thy God, the of Israel, thy :
And He is glorious. Every extra mile spent reaching Him is worth it. The experience exceeds every expectation as we are enveloped in His love. And knowing Him is salvation.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.