Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about my experience with my mountain top metaphor. I’m a Colorado girl so the physical overcoming of rocks and stones makes a lot of sense when we connect the image to our challenges in life.
For snobby, Colorado me, the metaphor feels a bit, well, overdone. I get it. The smell of the pines, the crunching stones on a dirt trail – idyllic – but I’ve lived the mountain ups and downs for a long time. I haven’t lived the ‘shouting from rooftops’ metaphor or the ‘view from the top of church staircases’ or ‘tripping on cobblestone’ or ‘lessons found when getting lost in London’s alleys’ metaphors.
I’m not a very big risk taker and the hills and valleys in my backyard were spiritually working for a long time. Until they weren’t.
Deep breath – here it is – I’m tired of mountains. I needed a change of scenery.
This year, the bravest thing I’ve done was plan a two week vacation to places I’ve wanted to go since I was a teenager. I knew I needed respite and took baby steps to see if maybe, magically, we could make a dream come true. I made lists and price comparisons, read blogs about places to see and interviewed seasoned traveler friends for their advice.
I asked my boss for two weeks out of the office. He agreed.
Then, I bought plane tickets.
Then, I waited for weeks.
Dare I take another courageous step? Did I believe I could invest in me and the universe wouldn’t retaliate?
With each planning step my palms would sweat. Every time I clicked purchase on a hotel reservation, or a show I wanted to attend, my heart beat loudly in my nervous chest. I wrote about my fears and my doubts and all the reasons why chasing this dream could be halted. I was sure, if I left, someone else would die or need me back at home. An unhealthy pattern, yes. A pattern that my friends in grief group nod along to when I voice – ‘I’m just scared of who is going to go next.’
Time passed. I prayed. I planned. I clicked purchase. I made an itinerary on Google and copies of our passports. We bought luggage, we packed, and eventually we boarded a plane.
Nine hours later, a conversation with a nice lady at Passport control, and we walked out the airport doors and into the English air.
A dream came true and we made it happen. A beautiful thing.
I have lots of stories about our trip and much like Dylan is editing the 700 photos he took on his DSLR, I’m still processing the lessons I learned over there. I’ve waited to share here because one little post seemed inadequate to capture the joy found in exploring museums, churches, magical places with cones of rose-shaped gelato in our hands.
So here goes.
There are a lot of stairs in Paris. Stairs in the subway stations, in the art galleries, in the lines of the tourist destinations. They seemed to be everywhere. Just like the stairs of life. Sometimes, we fall down them. Then we get back up and keep asking, ‘what can I see at the top?’
On a Thursday night, Dylan and I climbed stairs to the 6th floor of a big building hoping to see some modern art. We went to late night hours and found ourselves gazing out at this view instead. A little different the tops of mountains I’m used to.
The things we’ve overcome to stand on this rooftop! I was moved to tears.
Beautiful tears for the past, for the new memories made we won’t share with my dad as we debrief at home, for the pure joy that comes from believing my own dreams are worth pursuing. Beauty found in the power of listening to the little voice inside my heart that said, ‘you are worth it, go explore. These people you love will be ok.’
The people I love, they were ok. We were too. More than ok.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
– 1 Peter 5:10
From under the lights of the Paris skyline, to the sides of the Thames river my heart soared in places unfamiliar. I kept saying to Dylan, “I feel so ALIVE here.”
Every time we walked in a plaza, sat in a beautiful garden, slurped onion soup at a sidewalk cafe, I would whisper thanks. In Europe, 7,000 miles from home, I couldn’t believe how far we had come in our restoration journey. God brought us there, at the steps of these famous, picturesque places. With my ability to trust and release my paranoid control of the lives of my loved ones, I stood at the foot of Notre Dame, saw the London Eye, visited Queen Elizabeth’s home, and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle up from the top of a building, dazzling in glow of Parisian light.
Travel was balm to big wounds, the scabby heart ones still grazing my grasping fingers each day. I’ve been home two weeks and continue to integrate these new experiences. I’m realizing all over again I can heal and hurt and delight all at once.
Perspective from any kind of higher ground is a beautiful thing. The metaphor is just a little more sparkly in Paris.