The muffled sound of my shoes on the polished stone blocks lining the street rose into the cold winter night as I meandered my way into the heart of the old city. I pondered childhood memories as my breath rose like mist into the evening air, momentarily taking shape before vanishing as quickly as it had appeared. I paused within the almost deserted street as the golden rays of the street lamps bathed the surrounding buildings in an aura of subdued gold. The elegance and sophistication of a bygone era caught my imagination as manifested in the splendid architectural facades that lay before me.
Walking along the isolated beach, I couldn’t help but admire the simple creative beauty of nature. As I cast my eyes along the sand lining the seashore, occasionally lapped by the rhythmic movement of gentle water, I admired the beautifully coloured rocks everywhere to be seen. A myriad of earthen coloured weaving a natural rich and vibrant tapestry made me pause on occasion, reminiscing childhood moments where excitement was to be found in the most simple of things. I fleetingly yearned for those moments of innocence and wonder at what the world had to offer. Eventually walking along the seashore, I climbed an apparently barren gigantic rock formation keen to once again ignite that childlike reckless spirit of adventure. As I bounded up the last few steps leading to the summit I looked out yonder, mesmerised in pure joy at what lay before me.
Solemnly approaching the cliff edge, I was acutely aware of my insignificance as I peered from the cliff face out towards the vast expanse of Heaven and Ocean.” The gentle wind and sound of waves breaking were my only companions. There are times when words can not delve into the depths of one’s heart and soul. Somehow Dostoyevsky’s words “Beauty will save the World”, reflecting a loving God as manifested in the majestic beauty and gift of Creation resonated with vivid clarity. The calmness of the ocean, seemed to reflect the peace and serenity in one’s life, contrasted sharply with the turbulent clouds representing life’s many challenges and tribulations that one experiences in the deep valley of our struggles. Our lives at times seem vulnerable, an isolated island within a vast Ocean of despair. Nevertheless, the light piercing the clouds and illuminating Creation is the unconditional, unwavering love and mercy of Christ, walking with us amidst the storm, truly beautiful to behold. Words dear to me echoed within the depths of my heart.
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Walking along the deserted pier I was stung by the cold wind cascading forth from the ocean. As the sun began its slow descent, heralding sunset, I walked towards the pier’s edge and paused, looking out beyond. A sea of wooden pillars starkly rose defiantly from the water. I was struck by the contrasting emotions that welled within me. The scene that lay before me looked drear and desolate. Slowly, with the passing of time a change however subtle became apparent. The suns rays illuminated the sky and waters with a brilliant myriad of blue hues manifesting a brilliant spectacle of simplistic beauty to that which previously was barren and forlorn.
Walking down the ancient road meandering through the town centre I noticed a secluded side street; barely noticeable yet inviting one to explore what lay beyond. A tinge of excitement stirred within me; the thirst for adventure never waned within my heart, so I unhesitatingly turned into the path which seemed to ascend quite steeply. I was transported instantaneously into a period centuries ago. The tales of my childhood manifested from children’s stories suddenly came to life , as I walked in the footsteps of peasants, traders and noblemen from the medieval era. I imagined the robust haggling of traders selling their wares in the market place, artisans busy at work and musicians mingling with townsfolk in carnivals. Pausing for long moments I couldn’t help but yearn for a time of creative beauty and simplicity, filled with uncertainty and romance.
The narrow village paths lined with colourful restaurants and intricate bouquets adorning the decaying medieval walls, straddled the main stream meandering through the centre of this picturesque town nestled at the footsteps of the Alps. The surrounding landscape, comprising a ring of forested mountains and complemented by a crystal clear lake embraced this medieval paradise. Centuries old towns with cobblestone streets, ramparts, archaic castles and cathedrals from the medieval and renaissance periods unique to European were truly fascinating to behold. Exotic buildings and streets with colourful facades, magnificent cathedrals and richly decorated buildings connected by secret passageways plunges one literally into the tales and story books of ones childhood. Flamboyant characters such as Molière and D’Artagnan suddenly come to life. France manifests architectural sophistication and elegance, a rich diverse and vibrant culture and is blessed with geographical beauty renown throughout the world.
Walking along the shore I pondered briefly at the set of footprints that disappeared in the sand before me, wandering fleetingly to whom they belonged. I was all alone, yet excitement mixed with a sensation of peace gripped me ever so strongly in its embrace. Looking up towards the horizon I hurried; there were only a few brief moments of precious light whereby I could experience the final setting of the sun. Quickly climbing atop a rugged boulder surrounded by water, I looked out towards the ocean. I lay still, overawed by such beauty. There are special moments when silence manifests such a forceful presence that it penetrates into the depths of ones soul. After long moments I stood up, a lone insignificant silhouetted figure, closed my eyes and stretched out my arms. The sound of the gentle wind and splashing of the waves upon the rocks melted away as I turned inwards to prayer, offering praise to God for His beautiful Creation. The solemn and reverent words of the Psalmist “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” echoed within the depths of my heart.