A near-drowning drew me closer to God

Originally appeared on spirituality.com

“No matter how good the ocean looks, don’t go in it,” the hotel employees warned me.

I was a delegate to the 1994 International Conference on the Environment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio is renowned for its beautiful beaches, but my hotel beachfront was strictly decorative. The deep harbor housed huge oil tankers, docked within view. And each night, giant waves slammed onto the shore, washing the beach out to sea. I fell asleep to the steady hum of sand machines putting the sand back.

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