Today marked a significant event in this trip: Driving on the left side of the road.
Yes, way back when this trip was first being planned, renting (hiring) a car for at least part of then trip was a must. How could an American with the opportunity to do so, resist the chance!
We picked up the car ( a hot looking, black Vauxhall) in downtown Glasgow then did a couple of loops trying to figure out how to get on the motorway. Once we got headed in the right direction , it was fun.
I felt like James Bond. Mr. Bean occasionally.
After 30 minutes or so we found ourselves on a two lane (dual carriage-way) highway, gently climbing into the highlands. Really beautiful. . . I mean really. It is so familiar, so much like home, but still inexplicably different.
Green, so many shades of green, something my father spoke about frequently. The flora is very similar too: Lupine, Foxglove, Sword Fern, Bracken Fern, Alder, Hemlock, Fir, even Red Cedar. The soil is black, musty and saturated. It has a smell that says life will come bursting out of it no matter what you do.
We made a couple of stops before arriving at our home for the next few days, Inveraray; home of the Duke of Argyll, Chieftain of Clan Campbell, my mother’s family. I’ll not bore you with the history, or elaborate descriptions of the town. . . You can look it up on the inter webs If you have a mind.
Were staying in a B&B called Ruhda Na Craige, built in 1860 something for the Procurator of Argyll. Howard and Susan run it. Really nice people.
I had two of those special moments of contentment today.
The first was saying morning office in the middle of Glasgow Central Station. I discovered that if you cannot find true solitude, complete anonymity is a workable substitute. The moment came as I prayed for those around me. Such a familiarity with these people, like looking into the faces in a faded photograph of your grandparents and recognizing yourself.
The second came as I stood at the head of an enormous valley on a roadside pull-off called Pause and beThankful. There’s some kind of grave there, but just as significant is the vantage point, looking back down a long steady climb that you have just completed over green hills, small waterfalls on each side of the valley feeding a winding creek at the bottom.
I’ve seen almost this exact view many times before . . . In the Washington Cascades. But again . . . This just a touch different.
Interesting that one moment comes from a connection with a familiar people, and the other from a connection with familiar land. A feeling of home, finding a thread that connects you to the new, to the novel, to the recently discovered.
Why is there such a thrill in that? To discover a common bond with someone you just met, you know the same person, or lived in the same town, you’re reading the same book . . . Whatever it is. It creates a thrill when it happens.
I think we were made for connection. I think we were created with the mechanism to tune into the familiar where ever we find it, (like one of those radio tracking antennas they use on nature shows to follow the migration of the recently tagged and released Blue Bellied Nob Gobbler) and when we DO pick up the signal, we have the opportunity to embrace the truth of God’s immensity, our special place in an amazing creation, and its wonder.
. . . We can blow it off too. Or chalk it up to only it’s various natural causes. Thats a different subject.
I’ve been feeling that thread of familiarity as I read my oldest daughter’s blog about the trip. It’s compelling to read that she sees or experiences the same things (or very similar things).
Brenda and Robyn (my youngest daughter) experience things differently, but the familiarity is still there, and still a thrill to “recognize” them as people, but in a different setting.
It’s all connected, friends. Most of the boundaries that keep us separate and suspicious are imaginary. We are all part of something bigger than even the best, most ruggedly constructed doctrine can ever fully explain.
Christian friends: Relax a little. Remember that as true as your doctrine is, as well put together as it may be, it serves only as a road sign pointing to a God who cannot be contained in a road sign! John 5:39
Non-Christian friends: Truth exists. You respond to it every moment of your life. Don’t suppose that because you can’t hold it all at once that you should not pick up the pieces that present themselves to you.
We are surrounded by the glory of God.
“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes” Elizabeth Barrett Browning