When thinking about the prettiest place on earth, my mind immediately jumped to Salzburg, Austria. I went there for a day that turned into two days with my family last summer and fell in love. This was the first time I closed my eyes and asked the Lord to show me true beauty. I had just gotten out of a relationship and at the time my heart felt starved. I was reading through 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp which taught me to count my blessings; therefore, documenting each and every one. My family went off to visit tourist attractions and I stayed behind to have a date with Jesus…literally. I happened upon this nature trail behind our hotel and found myself in spontaneous laughter as I brushed through tall trees and followed rays of sunlight that marked my path. Rainbows, hues of color, arched across tree trunks. I heard the crash of water against a shore and found myself by a lake that took my breath away.
Out onto a deserted dock I dipped my toes in the icy water. As if that wasn’t enough, two swans swam over to me as if saying, “This is only a fraction of beautiful.” I remember that day as the day the Lord opened my eyes to a personal love that heard a whispered request, a plea we all harbor. When you ask the Lord to captivate your heart, He pulls out all the stops.
Naturally when planning my excursion, Salzburg was the first stop. Navigating from train, to tram, to bus, to over the river and through the woods, to a hostel stay was potential disaster for the girl who gets lost on a run in her own neighborhood, but I made it. The first day back in the city I had fallen in love with almost one year ago to the date began with breakfast at the hostel. Nutella spread over extra crispy rolls and a much-needed cup of coffee. The Sound of Music tour was the first stop. I’ll admit I was leery of this because I’m not a die-hard Sound of Music fan, actually it rather annoys me; regardless, it promised rural views and that was what I was looking for. So away we went, “I’ve got confidence,” as Maria would say. The tour delivered! I found myself back at the very lake I had dipped my toes in one year ago. The mountains, lakes, fields and flowers ignited a part of my heart that was so ready to run free. Never become too boring to frolic in a field of rich, rich beauty. So I did! I was only doing what my heart was feeling. “The hills are alive with songs they have sung for thousands of years…”
On the stop back to the city, we found ourselves at a recommended cafe eating warm, homemade apple strudel. Even in a city bustling with people, tourists and locals living their everyday lives, this city has a charm unmatched. The bridge crossing old buildings to a tourist’s paradise overlooks a glittering river. Rain-washed buildings have only become more beautiful with age, as do the lovers’ locks clasped around the rails of the bridge. To conclude the evening I ventured up to the wall of the fortress for a different perspective of the city-sitting high, looking low, completely taken by the view.
The sunset was warm and melted over the horizon. On top of Hotel Stein, one of the oldest rooftop restaurants, is the best place to watch the sun sink. Yes in deed, this was a day to be remembered.
Thank you, Lord, for starting a quest for uncovered beauty in a desperate heart and bringing it to completion. Thank you for bringing me back to the place it all began. Even a year later You romance. I see You reflected in the river, in the lovers’ locks, in the painted sky, in the rich green hills, in the fields growing freedom, and in the company of friends. Your love reflected in a familiar lake You took me to on our first date.
A toast to beautiful things!