A couple of days ago I wrote about beauty and the way it both heals us and woos us to our Maker. It got me thinking about beautiful places. I love to travel -- I'm determined to live in Europe one day, hopefully in the near future, and every time I go abroad, I think to myself, "I can't not live here." Something about the gorgeousness of place calls to me, wakes something deep within me that I cannot define. I think that's a crucial part of my own adventure. Gorgeous places show up in all our favorite adventure stories. I cannot read about Minas Tirith and not feel pulled by a sense of destiny. Beauty calls to us and reminds us that we are made for something perilous and terrible and altogether wondrous. Palaces and cathedrals fill me with awe and wonder and a longing to never leave, because the beauty therein reminds me what I've been made for.
Take Westminster, for instance. When I was at Westminster Abbey this summer at CASI, I never wanted to leave. I was utterly overcome by the beauty and silence of the great cathedral. It is absolutely incredible, but what is more, it is a house of God. The gorgeousness of a grand cathedral reminds me of the light and gorgeousness of my Creator-King-Father, and it makes me see Him in a new light: as someone deserving of this kind of beauty.
When I see a beautiful cathedral, or when I visit a beautiful palace, I never want to leave. I want to stay in the beauty of it -- because beauty heals my soul and calls to me. It wakes me up to who I am and Whose I am. It reminds me of adventure.
I think all these gorgeous palaces are intended to be places that call to our adventure-longing. People built these so that they would be out of the ordinary, so that people would go to experience something other than their day-to-day lives. They were intended to bring us out of ourselves. They do their job well: I cannot go to a palace or cathedral without experiencing a powerful tug on my heartstrings.
Here's the deal, though: I have already been given the adventure for which I long so deeply. I am living it. The world is full of great mundanity and great beauty and great squalor. It's part of the adventure. It doesn't always look like a palace -- sometimes it's terrifying. But that doesn't mean it isn't beautiful.
May we be on the lookout for the beauty around us today. May we let it call our names and stir our hearts. May we let it wake us up to the adventure that we've already been given.