“TRAVEL, like life, is best understood backward but must be experienced forward, to paraphrase Kierkegaard. After decades of wandering, only now does a pattern emerge. I’m drawn to places that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again.”Eric Weiner
The closest place for me to heaven on earth is Cape Cod. My “second mom,” my mother-in-law, found this paradise for our family and for years we spent parts of our summers and falls there. We would drive across the Cape Cod Canal and stress would lift from our shoulders.
At the beach near the harbor, we’d soak away our troubles in the salty water, or walk at low tide near glacial boulders and stones of green, rust, and rose, discovering snails and hermit crabs in the tide pools left behind by the retreating water. We’d sit and read in beach chairs near the waves and walk the stones of the jetty, with no sense that time even existed apart from the slow transit of the sun. Then, growing scarlet, it would drop on the horizon, a silent backdrop to the sounds of the sea and the light, filtered through streaks of clouds, would evolve from scarlet to rust, to mauve, to lavender, and finally to deepest amethyst, in a tranquil progression to peaceful night.
Trips to our favorite bookstores, down the winding road that is 6A, featured golden shafts of sunlight dappling through the twisted limbs of scrub oak and dark pine. Best of all, treks off the beaten path wove past charcoal-grey shake-shingled Cape cottages, half-Capes, and salt-box houses, with piled stone fences and gardens of pink cottage roses and purple hydrangea, lace-like cosmos, and black-eyed susans. It always made me feel as is we had fallen back in time to an English seacoast town.
If that sounds like a travelogue trying to get you to visit, it’s not. It is my definition of heaven as C.S. Lewis would have it in The Weight of Glory, the far country, a place of timeless beauty where eternity can be felt along with “the memory of our own past..” yet even more than the long loved Cape itself, it is an “echo of a time we have not hear, news from a country we have not yet visited…” yet recognize instinctively. The place that whispers “home” to my soul.
Now, after several years away, we are at the Cape again, as if we had never been anywhere but here. Doug’s sister, like her mother before her, has found a way to paradise and I sit on the back deck of her family’s new house, over-looking a salt marsh, watching the ebb and flow of color and sea, feeling peace once more enter my spirit. I know, as I have always known, that vacation here is re-creation in God’s time and place. It is letting go of all that binds me, plunging into the eternal, then like, taking a deep breath after a long swim underwater, bursting back to the surface of time, and I breath it in as if I take the first breath of new life. The pause that refreshes. Coming home.