Two drunk and stuttering men sit on a bench at the outskirts of the woods. They flip the tabs off of too many beer cans, jeer at the passersby and chain smoke cigarettes. It’s raining.
I hurry past with my resting don’t-mess-with-me face and catch myself judging them.
They want to forget.
Don’t we all?
Jared asks me how I’m doing. I turn around and just smile, lost for words yet again.
“That was such a genuine smile,” he says. “I haven’t seen that from you much; that might have been the first one of the trip.”
“I’m thriving,” I say. “And I’d forgotten what that felt like.”
My senses revel in the sweet smelling air, the wind on my cheeks, and the never-ending green pastures that keep creeping up on me, wholly expected yet more and more unexpected each time.
When we turn down a grassy lane that opens up into cow and sheep pastures, I’m beside myself with joy. Unable to contain myself, I squeal and giggle to myself and anyone around who cares to share the bubbly feeling rising in my soul. I cry when I see the little lambs frolicking beside their mothers, bleating and skipping to keep up with mommy’s longer strides. They stopped to watch us, we stopped to watch them, and it was quite the viewing party. I don’t know what could possibly compare to this experience.
Emily, Kailin, Maddy, and I pause during our hike to stand on a viewing point jutting out from the cliffs, deciding it will be a good idea to scream our angst and stress out into the Atlantic. When it comes to my turn, I open my mouth and face the water, only to find I have no bitterness left no matter how hard I search for it or want it to be there so I can scream the scream I’ve held in for over eighteen months.
“I can’t,” I whisper to the wind.
I find myself sitting alone in a face of the cliff, cushioned by moss and kissed by the wind’s remains of ocean spray crashing against the stone below me. Desperate not to repeat the sadness I found on the cliffs of Dover, I start playing Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” from my phone, hoping it will stir me to write or pray or both.
Less than fifteen seconds into filming a short clip of my view, my phone blinks, says it only has 1% battery left, and proceeds to die. I could have sworn it had been 60% charged when I left on the hike, and I’d barely used it. But taking it as a sign that I should talk to God, whether or not I felt like it, I try to pray and find I can get no further than, “God, you’re amazing.”
I don’t know what else to say. After stumbling around for nonexistent words, I take out my little brown Bible instead and it falls open to Isaiah 36-37. I laugh aloud, not finding the fall of Sennacherib particularly relevant to anything I’m going through, but I skim down the columns and begin to read aloud starting at 37:22. The pages stick together, so I end up skipping from 37:27 to 40:10 and continuing to read from there.
When I reach a stopping point, the hymn “This is My Father’s World” comes to mind and I sing it there on the Tintagel cliffs.
This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world,
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
His hand the wonders wrought.
I still struggle to respond, but I’m washed with the comfort that I don’t have to. This is for me to receive, to hold, to know. God just wants to remind me who he is and to fill me.
Upon returning to the hostel where most of us are staying for the night, I plug in my phone and joke to Ellie that if it’s still as charged as I thought it was I will fall over. It immediately powers on, and after a brief moment the lock screen displays.