Sarah Clarkson’s latest writing wanders at elevation.
A jaunt to the mountains is always a good idea. I especially like it when I want to interrogate God about the direction of my life, while also letting him know I’m a little miffed with the current particulars. Several weeks back, I was befuddled in soul so I packed my faithful blue hatchback and headed for the hills. I stayed in a mountain cabin with airy rooms, a steady supply of coffee, and a dimly lighted little porch just shaped for hours of brooding. My plan was to do quiet, restorative things: read, take very gentle hikes, and generally make enough quiet space in my brain for God to speak some…encouragement? Direction? Anything would do.
But the resting was not to be. I don’t know what possessed me, but I spent most of my time acting like a mountain goat. I hiked every trail in reach. My cabin, set right at the feet of great, jutting boulders in the foothill valley that flanks Pikes Peak, was perfect for meditation, prayer, and…climbing. In my heart and feet was an insatiable desire and a restless energy that set me on a series of long scrambles up red, muddy hillsides, out onto craggy, storm-shadowed cliff edges in quest of, well, I wasn’t sure what. A deeper drink of storm sky. A wider view. An end to my fitful thoughts.
But my thoughts were tenser than ever by that afternoon when I hiked up the top ledge of a canyon. I had checked my trail guide and thought I would be out for a short, easy climb. I must have missed the turn because an hour in, I was still going up, too far to turn back but flummoxed as to where the downward road might be. I stopped to check my map and noticed abruptly how the air had pooled and stilled and the sky turned an ominous grey. The hot, pin-drop silence of air just before thunder filled the woods and then was shattered by a terrific crack. Great. Every mountain dweller has a cache of people-being-struck-by-lightning stories. I was pretty sure I was about to become the stuff of legend.
Sarah Clarkson is an author, blogger, and student of theology at the University of Oxford. She loves books, beauty, and imagination and wants everyone else to understand why they should too. She is the author of Read for the Heart (a guide to children’s literature) and Caught Up in a Story, an exploration of the way that narrative and imagination form a child’s sense of self. She wrote The Lifegiving Home with her mother, Sally Clarkson, and blogs about home, books, Oxford, and beauty at thoroughlyalive.com. When not chasing doctrinal mysteries down in the Bodleian, walking the meadows, or drinking another good cup of coffee, Sarah can be found at home with a good novel in the red-doored English house she shares with her husband, Thomas.