The other day I walked into a park in Hong Kong that made me feel like I may be in the right place, after all. In a very short time, I came here hoping to make Hong Kong feel something like home. Wherever home was, I always had a place where stories lived, and where I could go to live my own. When I was young in St. Louis, there was a forest, and old mysterious steps, and a dark area, and train tracks, and a rushing river. In Allen there was a creek, with winding trails and an old ramshackle dam, and little rivers for rafting, and a rope swing. There were hills, and trails, and bridges, and massive concrete drainage pipes, and more railroad tracks. These places were the setting which made me feel that everything was a story, and everything that didn’t seem to be, could be. I’ve known how important these places once were to me, but I had half forgotten that things which were once important usually still are, though they’ll put on different clothes as time passes. Many things change, of course, but often it seems that what changes isn’t the heart of the matter, the core, it’s simply the context. What we seek in most things, like fun and friends and treasure and romance, I think, will probably end up looking pretty similar, once you strip away the outer layers of age, stage, season. We don’t stop loving the old things, like the joy of climbing into a treehouse for the first time, listening to everything creak in the wind; the excitement of wondering what candy we’ll amass after trick-or-treating, and what laughter is in store; what treasures we’ll find in an old attic, dignified and grey with dust; the soaring feeling of flying out on a rope swing and the way it hurts your hands; the awe of finding an old building or ladder in the woods, knowing that some person, many, many years before, had existed, and perhaps once had an adventure here, too; why we’re smiling so stupidly after that girl or boy smiled at us, or teased us back, and how we’re pretty sure sunshine just got invented, after that telling smile and the glinting eyes. The heart of it doesn’t change, but the context does, the clothes. Perhaps it is clearer back in the early days what is precious, and the more time goes by, the more need arises to dust it all off and consider it again, smiling as, briefly, a pure ray of sunlight bursts out while we unwrap an old memory, just like the old sunlight from when we were running through the woods, and we were small.
I went on a hike the other day, and I tried to write about it, but I found afterwards that I had little to say. It was foggy, as dense as you can imagine, surreal, like wandering in the mountain’s dream. I didn’t disturb it, I know, as I am far too small to perturb a mountain dreaming. I pondered what they may dream about, but their whispers are far too large for little humans to hear, rushing like wind. I wandered in the mountain’s dream and wondered if God might have something to talk to me about in there. I asked him about things, but I don’t think he was talking back in any sort of way I was expecting. I didn’t mind, because I felt like we were hiking together, and I knew he was there with me. I knew he was wanting me to be here, Hong Kong, for something; he’s pretty clear about having his purpose for me, and I’m actually okay not knowing what it’ll look like for a while. I like to watch things unfold and ‘get it’ slowly, especially stuff he does.
It was a long hike, and difficult because I’m out of shape. There was a soft mist falling the entire time, and a driving wind, and it soaked me slowly. When I had finally exited the cloud enveloping the mountain’s sleeping mind, the world was new, drenched in a clarity that made every blade of grass, bush, rock wield an astonishing contrast. I didn’t know how clear everything became after fog slept on it. On the descent there was a small place to rest, a little clearing. I stood on the top of a rock, a massive one, craggy and easy to climb, and felt the wind push me. It was strong like the beginning of a hurricane, strong enough that, if I were still in Texas, I would be expecting something momentous coming. It would’ve meant a storm that brought lighting and sheets of rain, and I would have watched the tempest in awe. Instead, there was just wind. It drove the clouds past the islands at an incredible speed, and it looked like the edge of the world, bits of jungle and mountain jutting out of the blue sea, the wispy clouds hurtling by, all the discarded thoughts of a bustling earth. Eagerly they rushed ‘headlong into the abyss’, and the wind pushed so strongly at my back that, had I wings, I could have easily lighted and joined them. But, instead, I just watched as the wispy colossi danced by. The world was grey, but they seemed to me inexplicably merry. I thought perhaps God was telling me something after all, though I wasn’t quite sure exactly what it was.