Saturday, May 28, 2011

Beautiful Barcelona

the sun was warm as we walked the streets of a new city, so completely different from our last two ventures on this European voyage. the smell of the Mediterranean Sea breeze & flavorful foods we were dying to taste, the sounds of Spanish music, laughter, entertainers, & children at play... the bright colors of flowers & laundry hanging from balconies & window sills... the intricate tiles & sculptures decorating the sides of buildings and fountains in the squares, and the palm & sycamore trees that lined the sidewalks pointing us toward the beach... ah, the sand between our toes! we eagerly changed clothes and joined the locals for a sun bath, dozing off to the sound of waves breaking gently against the shore. it was heavenly! we didn't hesitate to follow custom in this city - enjoying afternoon siestas, late night tapas, & even later night-life with music, dancing and, yes, a few drinks! the people & culture were fantastic. casual conversations on the subway and in restaurants, admiring the same beauty, palates, & desire for adventure. no one dressed or looked even remotely alike - each person easily casting their own unique style into an eclectic and extremely diverse group they call Catalan. and everyone seemed so young at heart! men & women in their sixties out on the town at midnight enjoying tapas and bright conversation... even older-looking Catalonians playing on the beach and going for a cool swim. we loved their loss for time, their love of beauty, their taste and choice of lifestyle so unlike our own...

rich landscapes & simple lifestyles
i love nuts!
fabulous night on the town
the renown Park Guell in honor of the late Gaudi

yet, it was not just indulgences and care-free attitudes that captured our hearts. the city also glories in its' historic, artistic and spiritual foundations. we soon began to notice the styles of architecture and learned of the inspirations derived from the late and aspired artist Gaudi, whose many works embellish the city at large and speak of a deeper and greater Love. after visiting the church he so grandly envisioned and set into motion, The Sagrada Familia, we were lavished with wonder at the message of salvation told in such profound and exquisite works of art, it brought tears to my eyes. it was the most magnificent structure we have ever seen and it is not even half-way finished. in fact, the church is not expected to reach completion within our lifetime! so much passion and purpose in every carved stone, painted tile, and piece of stained glass, all fitted together in a masterful display of worship to our Maker! overall, our time in Spain was quite refreshing, humbling and inspiring to say the least. and we hope these stories, images and influences will continue to move us out of our over-demanding, time-concious little world and into a spacious place of enjoying the inner luxuries of peace, gratitude and generosity God has given us each and every day. thank you, Barcelona for reminding us of our true home and divine calling as children of the King. life is so much more than what it seems...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oh, Switzerland!

it was intoxicating. breathing deeply of the cleanest, purest, most welcoming air i have ever let fill my lungs. we arrived after dark, and the stars alone told us we were in mountain country. dazzling! the sky seemed closer; it had to be. somehow luring us in & holding us captive to a majesty we could only outline on the horizon: enormous walls of black against the deep blue. no moon. we walked the wide & spotless streets of Interlaken almost ready to camp outside 'til the sun came up and pulled back night's curtain on these massive peaks we were so anxious to finally see. we were giddy, we could hardly wait for morning to come! alas, we reached our hostel, The Backpackers Villa, and were welcomed with a personal note and warm stack of sheets & towels. although our minds threatened to keep us awake, our aching bodies won us over to sleep...

...i was first to awaken just before dawn. (of course, the sun takes a bit longer to rise above the heady skyline). and the view i saw changed me in an instant. i cannot say that has ever happened to me before. my eyes fixated on the glory surrounding me & my entire being filled with tranquility, joy, newness, freedom. my perspectives altered. my ideals shifted. it was so subtle, yet so sincere. i had tears in my eyes & a cavern in my heart. i wanted to run up into them. i wanted to wrap my arms around them. i wanted to be apart of them, to be held by them, to call them home. those mountains on that beautiful morning!

we rented scooters later that day to go "further up and further in". curtis drove fast against the whipping mountain winds, with me warm on his back, clinging tightly. more quaint towns than i thought possible, more jaw-dropping landscapes than i could ever dream!

still, we wanted to go higher. so we paid our ticket to the top: a gondola ride to the second highest peak on the continent! the road at the bottom of the next pic is the same rode we were on in the previous pic. we were only a fraction of the way there! (i was kind of scared).

getting closer...  maybe half-way there!

finally, the peak of Shilthorn in view!

the view from the top took our breath away, and the breath we did take was so fresh and clean, it could have had healing powers! the green trees and fields nowhere to be seen. our little town swallowed up by peak after peak of sky-scraping rock faces iced in a thick layer sparkling snow. nearly indescribable. truly unforgettable.

these mountains compare to no others. they are guardians, treasure keepers, sanctuaries, proclaiming such strength and mystery, we knew God had given us an incredible glimpse of himself: mighty, awesome, powerful, able, unchanging and true. his love really does reach the heavens; his faithfulness, to the skies.

all that is left to say here is please go! you will not be disappointed, no matter the cost. let yourself be moved to tears and filled with wonder again! we can hardly wait to return...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bienvenue Paris!

Paris in springtime was absolutely lovely. Classic, elegant, romantic, refined... I felt as if we had stepped back in time to an era of pristine grace and gratitude for unashamed sensual pleasure. The smells coming from corner Boulangeries (bakeries) and sidewalk Brasseries (upscale cafe`s) were simply divine. The charming window trimmings and large wooden doors that lined the streets, flowering trees in bloom, colorful fruit stands and fabulous fashionistas strutting their way to work or study all had an amazing way of catching the eye and tempting one's step to stumble. We visited museums and cathedrals where ancient masterpieces gleamed over our heads and inspired our imaginations. We tasted ton ton (raw beef) and chocolate-filled crepes; enjoyed dark espressos and buttery baguettes... and paid way too much for all of it. And most of all, we walked abroad and embraced a culture so unlike our own. We found respect, admiration, temptation and desire for greatness beyond ourselves. And we left gratefully; completely satisfied and lacking nothing whatsoever. We only took with us a sidewalk print of the sparkling Eiffel Tower in the magical twilight of this fairy-tale city. A fairy tale we hope our future children (especially little girls) will dream of and see come true someday. Until then, dear Paris, we bid thee adieu!