I woke up early this morning knowing that I am a long way from Kansas. I am away from friends, family, and everything that I know as familiar. I am fairly sure I am the only non-Chinese individual in the hotel. Everything could conspire to create a sense of aloneness and yet as I sit outside in the mist I realize that something are comforting and familiar.
The power and warmth of natural silence is overwhelming. The soft sound of a gentle morning rain is augmented by the absence of sound from anything man made. There are no cars, buses, or street noise in the mountains of central Guangzhou China. Whatever one might think, there is an eerily familiar silence that triggers memories of the California Redwoods, Rocky Mountains, Hokkaido, the south island of New Zealand, and rural Manipur.
All around me, small mountains dominate the scene, each shrouded in misty fog. Each is so close that I feel that I can touch them. The way that wraps and binds me is comforting. As if Divinity knew that I needed to feel safe and tangibly created an environment that would give me that feeling.
Tall pines are all around me, on the edges of the hotel, wrapping the mountains on each side. If I just focus on them, I could be sitting somewhere familiar. The addition of bottlebrush trees, bamboo stands, and unknown trees reminds me that as familiar as it is, it is also different.
There is something universally timeless about this place. It is almost as if it was designed to demonstrate an old David saying; “God Most High is stunning, astride land and ocean.” (Psalm 47.2) I always thought of the saying as dominating, now I see it as a gift universally available to everyone.
The mist is slowing clearing this morning. I hope it lingers. I like the sense of being enveloped by compassion, community, and the sense of hope it imparts. While I know the scene will change, I also know that the presence will remain available to you and me.