Where The Trees Stand Still

800px-karl_friedrich_schinkel_-_morning.jpgI always liked that Bebo Norman song (see title) and it fits my present set of mind. I’m home! And staring quite contentedly out my window at a decidedly unmoving forest of wet pines. The act of travel is a strange dance that can leave the mind dizzy and I am heartily glad to be back in CO just in time for the brooding, stormy days of spring and the new burst of green all over the mountainsides.

I have flowers in my window today; a gladsome riot of pink carnations sitting on my sill and they embody my resolve as I enter this month and a half at home. I am determined to enter life at the level of the present moment. More than a resolve, it is a conviction, especially after the crazy days of my trip. Finally, I am here, fully present in my home, alive to the mercy of another day. No longer needing to look just ahead, or jump on the next plane, but here, with God and the tangible goodness of his growing earth. The whirlwind craze of my journey brought me a quick delight, but also a good sobering-up and I am here now thinking thoughts quite different from what I expected on my return.

The eternal gypsy in me thought that this trip would bring some sort of fulfillment to my yearning after ideals. I thought perhaps that seeing cities of beauty, encountering people living radically different lives, even glimpsing the green of different hills and strange forests would satisfy the hunger I so constantly carry for that something more. And I did see many things, I saw a myriad of lives being lived in startling diversity, saw pain, saw laughter, saw people being taught and lovely homes being scratched out of struggle and children being raised in a dozen different varieties of goodness. Yet I still hunger.
There is an itenerant idealist in me that cannot shake the conviction that one extra mile might bring me the ideal for which I yearn. Since childhood I have had a hunger to seek; to find that one perfect place, or situation, or friend, wherein I could live the fullness of my imagination, embody the pervasive beauty that comes so readily to my thought. My picture of what reality should look like is vivid, my desire to find it intense, and in many ways it has driven my decisions even as I have entered adulthood. Travel has always represented that search to me and so I have often sought it out, inarticulately hoping that my journeys might thrust me upon the incarnation of my ideal.

But something about the whirlwind of my travels this time began to teach me that it is not a thing to be found. In all their beauty, the great cities of Europe still don’t have the mystery for which I long at each dawn and dusk. There is no cathedral whose very walls can answer my hunger for transcendence. No single home or way of life to satisfy my thirst for rhythm, for beauty, for love. The earth, with all it’s splendor, is still just that, our own fallen world. It echoes with a goodness lost just as my heart echoes with an advancing redemption. But there is no part of it to fulfill my hunger.

So what is a crestfallen gypsy to do?

Build, I think. If the ideal doesn’t exist in the tangible realm, then it must have its being in the spiritual. When it comes right down to it, everything I believe lies just beyond my touch, why shouldn’t my ideals as well? But my convictions as a believer in Christ drive me to live in a certain way, compel me to picture my hope in my words, my actions, the set of my face as I encounter the daily world. I may not grasp the kingdom of God on earth, but I picture its reality. So I must with these ideals of beauty, of quiet, of life lived in a lovely way. I know that God created his earth with its startling beauty to reflect the richness of existence he intended for us. And though the world is fallen, the picture of goodness is still there, and the promise of it being restored is the centerpoint of my hope. I must not search any longer for a perfection that doesn’t exist in the earth bound realm. Instead, I must craft a picture of that for which I hope; give life to my thought by enfleshing it as much as possible. Picture hope through what I create. I can’t drift anymore; my only hope for finding an ideal is in planting my flag, and beginning the well-living of my life. Right here, in the chronos reality of my springtime day.

So I guess I’ve come home, because the trees really are standing still.
Even in my soul.

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