Friday, September 16, 2016
Do you remember those KIA Sportage "welcome to the swamp" commercials where they ran around in the bayou hootin" and hollerin'? No? Well, we rented a Sportage in Iceland and it was the ideal vehicle for getting off the road heavily travelled. We did have some moments when we felt we were chasing our tails, but the built-in navigation system saved us a lot of "ei-ees!"
Iceland is spectacular and exceeded our high hopes for natural beauty. The challenge is that the world is beating a path to Iceland's door. There are 330,000 citizens, making it one of the least populated nations, but this year there will be between 1.3 million and 1.5 million visitors. At some sites there is a crush of humanity and Icelanders admit that it is difficult for them, even though tourism is now an essential one third of the economy.
We are early risers and were usually on the road by 8:00, which meant we visited certain popular places before the crowds showed up. At others we discovered that lots of people want to hop out, take their "nature porn" selfies and then boot on down the highway. We would walk to the far end of the beach or promontory to get away from the press of people.
We also ventured on to some rather desolate roads, making our way carefully around potholes and sheep to find truly remote spots. On the recommendation of a local along the southeast coast we travelled inland eight kilometres on a crazy little road to a glacial tongue with it's milky white lake and river at the base. We walked for an hour or so, seeing a couple of other people, and enjoying the silence. The photo below is not ours, but this could be the same place.
This was one of my most moving experiences (there were so many) and I was aware of the presence of the Creator in that place. In some respects this was the "ugly duckling" of our glacier experiences, although how can any glacier sighting be anything but spectacular? There was something profound and numinous about the "sound of sheer silence," to quote from the story of the prophet Elijah in the wilderness. I felt the emotion rise within me, and it was a combination of gratitude and wonder.
The lonliness and uncertainty of some of those roads and the relatively remote destinations were highlights of our trip.
Does this make sense to you? Do you experience God in the still places? Are there many of those places left?