Moss and sponge-y dirt coat forest floors as we hike through the closest I have ever been to Narnia. Gnats scatter like pixie dust in the rays of sunlight peeking between tree tops, and our eyes focus on tangled roots I am just waiting to see move and trip us, the tree planning to walk away. This is the perfect setting for a fairy tale, and I half-expect the eagles I hear calling in the trees to swoop down and land on someone’s shoulder.
The path jumps up, then curves around the coast. Glimpses of rocks and water tease us, but as we push through the trees a magnificent view comes into focus. Seaweed and barnacles cover rocks below as the wake of a distant passing ferry gently crashes, the faint smell of salt lingering in the air. A lone sailboat has the cove to himself, and we watch from lichen-covered cliffs 20 feet up. Sunlight reflects off the water, slightly blinding my vision, but I can’t take my eyes off the blue color palette displayed in the waters and sky and staggered mountains in the distance.
A love story happened here.
Not the kind with a chance meet of two strangers in the woods.
Not a Romeo-and-Juliet-esq adventure of running away together.
Not the long-awaited wedding ceremony of a prince to his Cinderella.
But the kind of a Creator wooing a girl to Himself through His creation, her heart stopping in break-taking awe of the detail in every crest of water, in the spray emerging from slight shadows of whales hidden underneath the deep, in the opening of clouds to reveal the sun’s warm rays reaching for her legs.
The kind of love that catches your breath and races your heart, chilling skin with an audacious breeze and drawing her close like arms into an embrace. Safe. Secure. Content. The mark of true love. It continues to pull her near, His presence consuming her every thought.
Waves play tricks on eyes, teasing hope for a second glimpse of the whale.
His love is boundless, cannot be understood. His love is unconditional and foolish in the eyes of those who don’t understand. His love asks her to rest – not perform, not earn, not strive. And in that moment, she wonders why she ever thinks anything else matters. All of the value of life is contained here, in Him.
Yet once she leaves the cliffs of Lena, the memory of that moment fades. Not enough to forget the romance – you never forget your first kiss – but enough to cloud the clarity she once had about life and purpose and value.
Her heart longs to be on the cliffs of Lena again. Time seemed to stop in His presence. Those moments had a storybook glow, a picturesque quality unable to be contained in an Instagram post. Yet time does not stop, so she clings to the memories of that love and tries to push forward in a world where things are earned and lost and transient.
But it’s not that easy. One day, she finds herself breaking down as she feels the weight of all of the things she once knew didn’t matter but has since started carrying. The expectations she has placed on herself and the identity she has sought in her accomplishments have grown into something more than she can bear. In the midst of her tears and her racing thoughts, she hears a whisper of GRACE.
Was it possible that He was there, meeting her in the midst of the flood?
When you can’t carry it all, look to Me. I am here, in the everyday pieces of your life.
Her breath caught in her throat, then she slowly exhaled, feeling the beat of her heart calm in her chest. Maybe Lena was where the fairytale began, but life couldn’t stay there. Her failings and her attempts to do it alone wouldn’t negate the happily-ever-after she was hoping for; they would simply be a part of her figuring out how to find that happily-ever-after in ordinary moments and in ordinary ways. That intense, incomparable love had not ended but only changed scenes, showing up in little ways as reminders of what does matter and how she is loved.
Even after leaving Lena Point, the love story continues.