We’ve seen them often throughout Thailand– unexpectedly looming above remote rice fields or eerily- mysterious in the midst of the thriving city. And the sight of them leaves us wondering,
imagining the story behind the Dream-Abandoned, the Mission-Failed.
Because unlike in the West where unexpected expenses or poor planning simply translates into a bigger loan, a longer debt, and a finished product still the same, in many foreign countries when the money runs out, so does the construction. And mildew crawls into could-have-been hotels, and birds become the only tenants in apartment buildings that never saw drywall or plumbing.
And the Abandoned becomes merely a landmark for directions or a place for the homeless to squat for a while.
We were driving just last weekend down rural streets near our home, and we stumbled across one –
a sprawling hotel, surrounded by rice fields. And we drove across the pot-holed roads, stared at the weeds, and we asked about the Story.
We wondered at the unexpected problems the project must have encountered– maybe an issue with the water table or a dishonest contractor or the price of steel shooting up without warning. We wondered about the people behind the building and the struggles they might have been blindsided with– maybe a divorce or a sickness, a teenager that walked away or a business partner that bolted and ran. And we imagined if this rejected tower of concrete had become salt in the wound of some person’s failure,
looming evidence of a Dream Abandoned,
a permanent reminder of what almost was.
And when you see the weeds claiming what could have been a grand entranceway, it’s easy to assume you’re seeing failure, witnessing the evident defeat of a contractor’s vision.
But the season of Easter reminds me to fight these initial assumptions of failure.
Because Friday night’s cross stained with a Rabbi’s blood feels like defeat, too. Just like those abandoned hotels, the visual evidence to the average passer-by screams loss for the Vision, the assumed Plan A.
But the Kingdom of Heaven is not an obvious one, and we followers have to search for the deeper story.
Because, perhaps, that Asian contractor walked away just in time— to save a marriage that was falling apart, to hold on to his kid’s college fund, or to deal honestly with a business partner. Maybe the forlorn resort in the rice fields is not really a picture of failure, but one of enormous faith, after all. Perhaps the Greater Good just morphed into a New Plan–
one that walked in the way of the Apparent Abandoned.
And we pull our car away from the eery quiet, pass the villager at the creek bank catching frogs, and we drive down the dirt road, still wondering at the Story behind that hotel. And we are humbled and reminded, once again,
And thank goodness that’s the case.
Laura Parker writes from Thailand. You can visit her at her blog, A Life Overseas.