With thanks to CS Lewis, I am in Narnia.
It is my own private Narnia on the borderlands of the city. It is my frequent refuge, my quietude. It is the place where rolling hills begin to settle gently, becoming sprawling, impossibly vast plains, where coyotes, moose and many, many deer dance in their own way to the turning of the seasons. It is hills. It is valleys. It is fog and winter snows and rain. It is mine.
True, there are interlopers here, strangers who also believe that it is their private solitude, but we manage. A wave. A hi. Beautiful day, isn’t it? And we carry on, they to their wanderings, me to my peace.
On days of the week that are named, it is likely that I will visit this land. I will drink the wild air – great, thankful breaths, slowly, deeply, savoring, again and again. And on these named days, there is a very good chance that I will smile, that I will stand well rooted with branches spread wide, inviting all that is good in this place to invade my spirit.
Inspired. In spiritus. Filled with spirit. This place is sanctuary – sanctus, holy – a place where renewal beckons and promises are kept. But like Lewis’ Narnia, this is also a place where wretched, brutal honesty is the price of solace. It is a place where my layers, my justifications, my half truths are stripped away, laying bare my soul to heal in the simplicity, in the magnificence that empties me that it might fill me again.
It is a place in which I can be utterly alone beneath the prairie sky, gasping at the immensity of it all, soaring with hawks, taking flight with eagles, hunting, fleeing, surviving. It is a place of overwhelming delight, of abiding joy and heartrending humility. It is a place where I become infinite and a place where I shrink to nothing.
It is a church that will invite me to song and it is a ferocity that will drive me to my knees.
It is a place that will challenge me: Dare to look deeply! Dare to rise! Dare to turn and face the sky. Dare to live…
And on some days I will live, full to overflowing, exuberant with promise. But there are days when I cannot. I cannot look. I cannot rise. I cannot insist. I cannot dare. And I know that for all of its beauty, for all of its redemptive power, for all of its birdsong and creatures in trees, for all of its wonder and remarkable joy, this place is also a place of humility, of awe, of respect, of gratitude.
That is the truth of why I am here.
I am here to wonder and to revel, to refresh and renew. I am here to dance, to kneel, to weep and to sing. I am even here to strut with unbridled joy in the wild of the woods. But more than any of these – more by far – I am here to appreciate grace freely given.
I am here to remember that something far greater than me has welcomed me to this place ‘in spiritus,’ this place ‘sanctus,’ and I am grateful.