As I have mentioned in some of my other posts, I enjoy taking solo trips. Inspired by my successful outing to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, I decided to take the Sabbath to rest and recuperate (from the full week of classes and an academic trip that were now behind me).
But what did this restful day entail?
Simple answer: Waking up at 6 am and taking a 6.9 km (approximately 4 miles) hike in the village of Grindelwald, which is nestled in the Bernese Alps.
It seems contrary that waking up extremely early, transferring trains before the sun rises, and possibly straining your hamstrings as you climb a seemingly-unending path, play a vital role in a restful day. But for me? I think that makes a day all the better.
I have always enjoyed early mornings– if you ask my mother, she will tell you that when I was younger, I was an early riser. Even now, it isn’t so much of a struggle for me to wake up and take photos of sunrise or take a morning drive before the roads begin bustling.
I think the reason why I enjoy mornings so much is because it’s a, paradoxically, tranquil yet stimulating part of the day. While the rest of the world is asleep, I can savor its beginning and critically think through the rest of my day – even becoming more excited about what can transpire in the following hours.
This is what I experienced on the train to Grindelwald. During the 3-hour journey that began in the dark, and ended as the sun started to peak above the Alps, I was able to sit, watch the mountains pass by, listen to a sermon, and plan out which hike I wanted to do. Upon arriving in Grindelwald, I felt refreshed and ready to hike.
And why did I choose to hike? Truly, it’s because I missed home – meaning, all of the places and people that I have considered home since coming to Hope. When I miss people or places, I cope by going on hikes or traveling to mountains because regardless of if they are in New Jersey, New York, Virginia, or Vermont, they are similar to one another.
I must admit, this particular hike was strenuous. Despite the trail being only 4 miles long, my end point sat approximately 3,600 feet above where I originally started, past extremely steep inclines on gravel paths. However, though it was difficult, I enjoyed every minute of the hike (especially when I decided to take a break from walking and take the gondola from the halfway point to the top).
The view is definitely one of the things that relieved my slight homesickness and grew my sense of accomplishment for completing the trek. When walking up the mountain, I passed by cows and wooden chalets, each becoming more sparse the further I traveled. The sun shone in a cloudless sky, allowing me to see across the tops of trees that were just beginning to change color. While admiring my surroundings, I listened to a sermon from UPPERROOM Dallas that discussed how God rests in His Creation. Needless to say, it was a breathtaking experience to rest where He rests!
Listening to this podcast while hiking was extremely effective because it allowed me to have a clear mind to think, but also because the words I was listening to and the sights I saw reminded me of God’s goodness. Even during my descent, I watched the golden rays of the sun hit the mountains, which maintained my hunger to know Him, but also my sense of solitude and state of contentment.
Though entailing a difficult hike and a long day of travel, this journey satisfied my spiritual cravings and my nostalgia. I definitely enjoyed taking a day to myself and was happy that I was able to appreciate God’s creation in the process. By far, this was my best day of rest to date.