On a walk in the Lake District

It’s too difficult to say in words or capture with a camera how this place affects me: the absolute largeness of this place, the heaviness of the gray storm clouds, the openness of the fields, the grandeur of the mountains, the gently rippling lakes. Besides, these things have already been described more adequately than I can describe them more times than I can count.

There were times these past few days when I stood on the edge of a cliff and spread open my arms and tried to take it all in. If I tried to list it all this would only be the beginning:
the pattern of the stones in the path
the cleanness of the air
that after-the-rain scent
roadside flowers
misty rain on my face
the wind pushing me this way and that
the warmth of my body fighting against the cold of the air
birds singing their morning song
the tripping of a stream over stones
the surprising bleat of a sheep three feet from the pathway
the drip of rain from the trees and the sound of rain falling just over this next hill
the swish of the wind in the trees and through the grass
the British accents of these two grandparently figures coming my way
the shuffling crunch of gravel under my feet

And when I experience everything together, at once, it is the strangest sensation. There are no faint stirs of delight in my soul; my heart beats as normal—no racing, no stillness like it used to when faced with beauty of such magnitude. I long to be young again, when I knew how to be quiet and still, when I knew how to let the outside seep into my soul and revive it, when God was in everything I could see.

But now I am seeing something different, that beauty doesn’t have to be life-changing, that beauty can become so much a part of a life that it’s hardly perceptible. All things have become beautiful, and so beauty is no longer a surprise. It’s not a loss, but a blessing. My life is no longer a line of dull moments punctuated by amazing moments of passion and beauty, but has become a series of beautiful moments strung together.

Perhaps that is why I am not so dramatically affected by these expanses of beautiful nature. I know God is faithful, and I know this world will be just as beautiful tomorrow as it is today, whether in the city or in the countryside, in sunshine or in rain.

And instead of trying to fit the largeness of this created world in my little soul, I turn to smaller simpler things. My eyes are being trained to see the significance in the insignificant, little things that other people walk past without a second glance. The raindrops on telephone wires, a sign that nature still wins over industrialization. The long rocky path with its twists and turns, forks and dead-ends. Little forgotten streams forcing their way across pebbles and through grass down and down until they empty themselves out into the lake. The rusty orange leaves contrasted with countless shades of greens, the glowing green of the leaves when light shines through.

Green. I love green, especially in comparison to the overwhelming hot brown deadness of home this time of year. There I was in love with the blue of the sky, the blue of the ocean. But here…here I am in love with green, all the many shades of green, the brightness, the deepness, the solemnity. And I think it is mostly the green of this place that makes this corner of the world feel so alive.

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