By Meghan Golden
Here I felt the winds of Africa on my skin and the warm rays of the sun on my face. I swam with baby sea turtles and ate lunch with French cave explorers. I fought off a tribe of hungry iguanas and looked into the eyes of a barracuda. I ate fresh Rainbow fish and the most delicious pancakes on Earth. I strengthened my faith in God and my relationships with the people I love the most. Here is my home away from home, the island I fell in love with, St. John.
St. John is the definition of perfection, every single aspect of the island is magical. I have never been to a place where I have felt so incredibly happy and totally relaxed. From snorkeling in Trunk Bay to hiking Turtle Trail, from eating lunch on the sand, to dinner under the stars, from the wild parties in the streets on Saturday night to the peaceful masses on Sunday morning, St. John has it all. I never thought a place could change who I am, but St. John has. It has opened my eyes to a beautiful new world and my heart to an extraordinary new love of life, people, and faith.
Snorkeling in the crystal, clear Caribbean Sea, I am perfectly content. Surrounded by my family and millions of fish I can’t help but smile. This is not the first time I have entered into a whole new world. During my freshman year of high school, I found myself in an unfamiliar world. I felt like the little fish in a big ocean. Lost and confused, I was a girl who lacked confidence, and I was afraid of the vast sea around me. Despite my fear I kept on swimming. I joined the tennis team and I found my school of fish. I realized that everyone was in the same boat and together, we could grow and learn from each other. Four years later I am now a big fish in the sea, swimming confidently through life.
Fresh mahi mahi and my Aunt’s famous chocolate chip cookies are on the menu for dinner in paradise. This is the best meal of the entire vacation since everyone helps to cook up an island feast. This meal is so much more than delicious food; it is a time to gather with my family to share stories and to celebrate life together. We talk about anything, and everything, laughing and smiling; the meal brings us all together. This is the perfect night, surrounded by family, under the stars; it could not possibly get better.
My favorite part of the entire vacation occurs when we wake up early Sunday morning and head to Mt. Carmel Parish. This church is unlike any church I have ever been to. I am surrounded by people who share my passion and love for God. My faith is extremely important to me; it feeds my soul and keeps me strong in difficult times. I never feel alone, knowing that God is constantly watching over me. When Fr. Anthony starts speaking, I feel as though he is speaking to me. He talks about giving thanks to God. It is the perfect sermon, because I could not have been more thankful for everything God had given me. In this moment, surrounded by my family, with God by my side, I felt confident and content, knowing that He had a plan for me.
St. John is like no place I have ever been before. The island itself is beautiful, but the true beauty lies in the memories that I have formed with my family. Sitting on the sand with the waves crashing in the background I came to the realization that it is the simple things in life that bring me true peace and happiness: my faith, and my family.