“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things.”
This summer has gotten off to a pretty tremendous start. 🙂 For the first time, during the month of May, I traveled overseas. It’s always been one of my deepest desires to visit Europe, and this summer I was lucky enough to have the chance to do so. Not only did I get to visit some places I’ve wanted to experience since I was little, but the wonderful group of people I traveled with became some of the dearest friends I’ll likely have—we’ve now created a bond that will be relatively difficult to break, I think. 🙂 In any event, this amazing adventure has taught me so many things—I’m still realizing that, even though I’ve been back for over a month at this point. But processing an experience like that, especially when one is as slow at that as I am, takes a while. A looooong while. Which, I believe, is ok. 🙂 In any event, there are some things I’ve come to realize after the large amount of traveling done this summer and I thought it might be nice to share them! I’m rather curious to know if others have had the same experience—though I certainly wouldn’t be surprised were that the case. 🙂
Throughout all my travels this summer (I just got back from another lovely stint in the northeast with my family), there have been several unifying factors that come to mind. For one thing, no matter what country, state, or province I’ve found myself in, it seems to me to be populated with humans. Regular old human beings—which kinda makes sense, when you think about it! That’s something that struck me, especially during the European adventures. Here I was, foolishly thinking that the people I came across in England or Austria would be this strange breed of person easily distinguishable from us Americans simply because of their different nationalities. You know what? They really weren’t…which was one of the most comforting things I’ve experienced.
That isn’t to say that these unique countries weren’t amazing excursions into cultures and ways of living drastically different from what I’m used to—quite the contrary! But in the most basic, unadulterated sense, these people had the same cores as me. They love music and sharing it with people—even though that music might be in a different language, or played on instruments or in styles special to the location, the same passion for beautiful sounds and the creation of something so lovely came through. The love of nature, parks, and quiet was present in the gorgeously ornate gardens, peaceful forests, fragrant vineyards, simple parks, and sweeping mountainsides so lovingly maintained. Cycling through the Wachau Valley revealed the same enjoyment of the outdoors and happiness brought about by a beautiful day that anyone at home can relate to.
Perhaps most profound to me was the sense I encountered in the churches we visited. My favorites, though I did of course enjoy the mind-bendinly ancient, majestic cathedrals such as Westminster and St. Paul, were those less crowded by tourists…there were several places that we stepped into out of a London drizzle or a warm Austrian day that invited quiet, cool peace. It was so refreshing to find these solemn yet uplifting places of worship that go beyond denomination or creed and simply welcome one to relax and breathe even, and especially, in the heart of a bustling metropolitan city. Attending a Catholic mass at the gorgeous St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna was a profound experience—though the mass was completely in German (which I do not speak), the structure was almost the same as the Episcopal masses I attend at home. The music was beyond words, and the feeling of being connected like that both to God and to so many people from so many different places blew my mind. Of course, I did get a little frustrated at times not being able to understand the words, but that was really only a minor annoyance compared to the gift of being able to be in that space. I took so many wonderful things from that experience, and the whole adventure. But the universal gift of simplicity is one that’s going to stick with me.
We humans are all just that—humans. We love poetry and literature, music and praise, nature, shopping, sharing food and drink, theatre, art, sleeping in, watching a good film, spending time with friends and family, being alone, baking, cleaning, writing, reading, playing sports, creating…and so much more. And though we have many differences in culture and creed, race and religion, outlook and appearance, personality and purpose and so on, we share that simple fact of solidarity in our humanity. That’s something I’m going to do my best to remember—to cherish the differences that make us unique, and to embrace new adventures and ideas. But also, to love one another as the flawed, wonderful human beings that we are, and to be so thankful for that gift. Many thanks for reading, my friends. Have a lovely day.