Thursday, February 27, 2014

Our Day of Rest, Our Winter Walk

It's 2:34 PM and I am cozied up under my quilt by the fire at L'Abri. There are wet mittens, scarves, hats, and socks all hung up from our long jaunt through the snow.

This Sunday morning I woke up to find that the snow hadn't stopped, yet. It was still flaking down in never ending patterns as it was the night before. I felt satisfied and pleased. There are few things as excellent as snow days, the thick sort of snow that blankets the world - slush does little good, when you have nowhere that you have to be. A step even better than that is when you're living in a house full of vibrant character that you absolute adore and are eager to spend time with.

By the time I got out of my shower, the fire was already blazing and Erin and Tim were cooking up some bacon and French toast. I pulled out a book and it was suggested that I read aloud. People gathered and breakfast was served.

After the meal, as Liz and I did dishes, Tim began to read to all of us from The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald. The story drew us in and it was nice to just enjoy a story. After dishes, I joined everyone else around the fire as he continued to read. Erin was knitting, Emily was drawing, Liz was painting, I was prepping letters, and Matt was just sitting and taking it in. The fire burned hot and I felt peaceful - reaching a state of bliss that didn't take over all of my limbs, but casually lingered in my mind and invaded all emotions.

After nine chapters, we all started to get antsy for a walk in all of the snow that had accumulated over the past two to three day. We all started to bundle up for a trek out to the outlook - a good length walk for a day in which you would be hiking through top-of-the-calve-deep snow. I threw my Carhartt overalls on over a emerald green wool sweater, enough to keep me warm for hours in the snow. Everyone was wearing their winter finest - jeans or snowpants, gaters or galoshes.

I was eager, so eager.

Heading out was Emily, Erin, Liz, Matt, Tim, and I.

On the way down the driveway, we met up with Clark, S, and SB who were all working on sledding down the small hill. The giddiness started to build up and bustle out, turning us slightly childish in the way that only snow can.

Liz, Emily, and I grabbed hands and started skipping down the small, tree-lined road shouting out "Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Steven!" Lines ended in laughter, sliding, and full jubilation - a tone that was pretty set and steady for the rest of the stroll.

Matt and Tim were quick to leap full bodied into the snow, armed with snow pants, and the rest of us maintained our verticalness with true glee. Conversations started to unfold in the way they do as we partnered up and changed conversations, slipping easily between topics. I was grateful for the time I had with each person, grateful I got to know them and excited at the prospect of spending the next couple of months with them.

After a few minutes on backroads, we turned off onto a small trail that headed straight into the heart of the woods. Trees would bend over under the sheer weight of all of the snow gathered on the boughs and we would shake them to release them, watching them rise tall again, showering us in thick snow.

Each step made us feel like we were entering Narnia again - feeling the same wonder that Lucy experienced when she first stepped through the wardrobe. It was such a positive crew to be strolling with. I know I've written this out already, but I felt so, so grateful to be in the company that I was in.

From the path in one corner of the woods, we crossed the road to the Quarry. We wound down a hill with sharp switchbacks to a little hiking-lane that went by and across the small ponds. Everything was frozen and still. It was a perfection that could penetrate you and make you feel like the world just might be as it was supposed to be, or at least that it could be.

We made our way out of the Quarry up to the outlook. We had gone from low to stark high and the blood pumped in the way that would make lunch taste all the better when we dug into our sandwiches an hour later. A few Tibetan prayer flags signaled our way to the outlook which was nothing but a sea of grey -- although sea implies we could see the strait, which we could not. All it was was grey skies from the snow that continued to steady fall and whirl around us.

Conversations continued and swayed into topics that I wasn't accustomed to being able to have with other people. That's another thing I appreciate about L'Abri - we discuss topics that I don't always get to have with other people. Certain subjects just aren't on the radar of my general acquaintances and I don't feel comfortable enough to bring them up. A few of the folks got to work building a snowman which turned out to be a Minion - a very cute one.

After 30 or so minutes, we started are way back down to the Quarry. We held hands and started to sing out chants that we knew that involved right and left feet and coutning to eight in German (ein Hut! ein Stock! ein Raggashirm!!). Before long we had all six of us lined up, hand in hand, skipping, running, and sliding down the hill. I wish I could can up the bliss of that moment and pour it into a spoon for weary souls struggling through this February - give them a taste of the freedom that I know we were all feeling in that moment.

Near the bottom we took a right instead of a left and took a shot photo-break at a circle of rocks. As we got back onto the main path, we connected with Louise and Richard of Bowen Bay and their sweet dog, Wiley. Wiley was a short pup with frozen snow balls iced into his paws, some stained yellow. We engaged in conversation with them and after a few minutes, a family of four came down from another direction. There was a father with a thick accent (I think it was Scottish or Nova-Scotian) pulling his young daughter, Sophie, and the mom with little brother on her back. Accompanying them was a huge bear-of-a-dog. There in the clearing, we chatted, engaged, and connected.

Altogether, all 12 of us, we marched up the hill back to the main road. It felt too surreal, too perfect to be real life. I have a deep craving and desire for community. Many times I have to seek it out and create it on my own, and do. But here it was laid out before me to enjoy like a feast.

At Sunset Road, the original six of us broke off and continued back into the woods knowing that our lunch was waiting for us at the counter. I wish I could drag so many of my friends into the peace and joy that I find here. I wish they could bask in the genuine connections that we weave over hours and hours and promises of weeks to come.

Back home, we munched on our sandwiches and apples. I grabbed a rack to place in front of the fire and soon it was decorated with mittens and scarves like a Christmas tree. We read. We talked. We danced around the living room. We did push-ups and curl-ups (22, 21, 20, 19, 18...).

And now it's just about time for high-tea.

I am grateful for this life.

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