It's not a coastal strip, where white sandy beaches and an everlasting sunset caress the edge of the earth. It's not even a snowy mountain peak, or an island of lava and aquifers, where you experience an epiphany, and feel all your life experiences coalesce into a single moment of ecstasy. It's not any of these, because it's more. It's like that unread sonnet, that heart-song yearning to be written. It's where you feel the wind kissing your face, and the sun burning up a halo on your braids. Your shags, undoubtedly the most beautiful unphotographed place in the world.
You come here to escape the trivialities of your life, to remind yourself of that Someone who gave you a life outside of this paradise. You've had an easy life, and you dare not forget that. And so you look at the surrounding hills. It reminds you of that phrase you read so often in novels "rolling hills". The hills are endless, spiraling in a majestic wave, interrupted only by stony crevasses, whose waters plummet down to the valley, dividing into rivers and brooks, sustaining life in that place so arid, yet oh-so-green. You always wonder about that: how a place can be so hot, so arid, yet unfailingly green. It's a mystery, you conclude. The same mystery that birthed a 500-year old irrigation system, a lineage from pharonic Egypt, Jewish-like traditions, and you.
It's where you first learn how death smells like. It's the smell of the earth, the soil unturned. When you walk through dug out fields, it's inescapable. It's where you first truly know what 'redolent of' means: strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something), it's a place of opposites, of paradox. Because even if your spirit comes alive, that smell reminds you of those whose spirits reside beyond, your grandparents, your ancestors. And you learn that a place of life can also be a place of death.
But life powers the cycle of death. And life breathes here, in a church on a hill. Yes, it's a church on a hill, like a cross on a hill, like a Saviour's cross on a mount called Calvary. And so you go there for Sunday service, in that white square building with three rows of pews - for men, for women, for children. You remember it's still the place where your liberalism must stay in check, because your mother taught you well, to do in Rome what the Romans do. So in your skirt and shirt, you breathe that life, and your soul soars in joy, because the old man standing at the front talks about sin, and blessing, and you cry in your heart because in that place, you can still speak the same language - not your mother-tongue - but the language of a Heavenly Father's love for a sinful people, like you. And you wonder if that's what you seek after all, when your heart longs to rest, but your feet yearn to walk..
|One year later|
And when shags becomes a memory, when you go back to your fast-paced life, and your books, and blissful anonymity, you pray you will not forget, the story of life and death, the history of struggle. Because Someone lived here once so you would have all you have now, Someone walked all day up and down that valley, looking for salt licks for the cows, Someone slept on a rock, because walking to school was a three-day journey. Someone loved you, loves you, this much.