Today, I am home after 4 weekends away out of 5 weekends. Whew! So happy to have had the conferences, and speech tourneys and have finished the book–but now, even though my house awaits cleaning and mail is in stacks and suitcases need unpacking and cabinets empty of food, I know that if I do not regularly rest my body and soul and heart–I will not last well and I will burn out. Life pulsing through patterns of light and dark, spring and winter, busyness and laze–illness and health–disaster and mundane–whatever seasons come my way, I lean into them and ride their waves instead of fighting against their patterns of washing through my life.
And so now, weary to the bone, but content of soul, I ponder just how I might visit my daughter, Sarah, who is in Oxford, before she returns. I think I may have a free overseas ticket–of course I will find a way to justify my secret pleasure–time alone with my kindred spirit, who always fills my soul and inspires me, as do her siblings, and so I plan my course. As I was searching, I came across this memory–(doesn’t Joy look young! Oh, my–just a few years ago, and now gone!)
So, I am thinking, a trip to my beloved Austria would be just the remedy to this soul in need of fresh stimulation, pondering, dreaming and rest–so I share this memory with you today. And maybe this is the day you need to take a break and make a memory, too!
All work and no play makes Joy, Sarah and Sally dull girls. Recently on our mission trip, we had spent an endless stream of days speaking and giving out books and then hopping on another train or plane to go to another group of women with whom we would speak, minister to, give out books and serve. My children usually have to take care of other children, help serve meals, haul boxes of books and wait patiently for me to be through.
How delighted we were, at the end of our trip, to find a whole day free to do as we please. Since we had one free ride left on our train ticket, we decided to take a train to one of our favorite little towns that sits right on a quiet curve of the Danube River. Durnstein is the name of the town. It was a medival town with one narrow road passing through the small, ancient houses. Even today, only one car at a time can fit through the narrow passageway. Once when Clay and I were very young, we visited this town on a free weekend and stayed in the home—(bed and breakfast) where a wine press, over 900 years old, filled the middle of the house.
We chugged along through prim and predictably orderly Austrian villages. Flowering bushes, tulips, and daffodils marked the roadways and pathways and towns. Finally, we arrived at our destination. Story has it that Richard the Lion Heart went to the Crusades through Austria. When he reached his destination, he unearthed Leopold of Austria as the ruler in charge of the Crusades. In retaliation, when Richard was on his journey back home, he was capture by Leopold and place in a prison cell in the castle at the top of the mountain in Durnstein. He kept the whereabouts secret so that no one could rescue the English monarch.
Blondell, Richard’s beloved friend and servant, was a musician, seeking to discover the whereabouts of his master. The story tells us that Blondell strolled throughout the Austrian countryside strumming his lute and singing songs that were familiar to his king. He hoped that his king would hear him through the cell windows and respond. Sure enough, as he climbed around the mountain castle of Durnstein singing, Richard heard and sang back as a sign of his whereabouts. Blondell was then able to bring a group of English soldiers to rescue the King and take him back to England.
The morning we started our hike up to the top of the castle was chill, but sunny. The hike was straight up and arduous to my worn-out knees. Yet, with the encouragement of my younger hiking companions, Sarah and Joy, I completed the hike one more time to walk among the ruins of the old, remains of the legend tale. The views were incomparable as we looked out over the budding vineyards and caught the curl of the Danube winding its way through the sleepy valley. Rewarding ourselves with a hot, marrillen (the small town boasts of its apricots!) and cream cheese pancakes, lathered in whip cream, satisfied our overwhelming hunger. Then, seeing that the time was late, we literally had to run at full speed, a quarter of a mile, fearful of not being able to run another step, to barely catch the last train of the day that would return us to our friends in Vienna. What an adventure to put in our memory books.