me, cathedrals, Toledo, and Jesus...

me, cathedrals, Toledo, and Jesus...

Hey you adventurous majestic unicorn! I've got a story to tell you today :)

On Sunday, I left Nashville and headed to Spain for a Maymester Study Abroad trip. Excitement and nervousness were overflowing. On Monday, with a seven hour time difference, I arrived at 8 a.m. after the longest flight I've ever taken and we had a day full of activities in Madrid. On Tuesday, our group went to Toledo, that's where our story really begins. Buckle up, brief history lesson comin' atcha!

Toledo is sometimes called "a city frozen in time." It is a beautiful and historic city. It's a place where religions collided. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all within the same city limits. Toledo is a city up on a mountain. It is a natural fortress which is why it was occupied by the Romans initially. In later years the Jews, Muslims, and Christians all flooded in. 

If you've ever heard the phrase, "Holy Toledo!" this city is where it comes from. It's filled with cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues, so enormous and breathtaking that your jaw has dropped and your heart has come close to exploding long before your mind can even process the weight and beauty of it all. 

I'm quite certain that through the years I've stepped foot in one cathedral or another, for my sister's chorus concerts or other events at Christmas and such, but never have I been in a cathedral like this one, Catedral Primada Santa Maria de Toledo. 

I took one step in and couldn't catch my breath. I immediately felt the weight of the sacred and holy beauty that was built into the intricate architecture of this place. Never before had I thought that this much beauty and meaning and worship could be brought to life through a building. And oh, what a form of worship it was. 

As I looked at what seemed like endless stained glass around me and felt the weight of God and His love pressing down on me, all I wanted to do was sit down criss-cross apple sauce on the floor and pray. I wanted to talk to my Dad who knew there in that very moment that that is exactly how I would feel. Not only does He know the hundreds of thousands, even millions of pieces that went into the construction of this holy place, He knows me and He made me a holy place. What a beautiful and terrifying and extraordinary truth. He knows me. He knows me... So why does He still love me? Why does he call me holy and worthy?

I am a mess. As I sit here and write this down, sitting in this beautiful hotel room, with my balcony window open, noise flooding in from the old city streets, I'm overwhelmed. I feel like crying. Who am I kidding... I did just cry a little. 

I'll give a little background. This is my first study abroad trip and my first time going legit out of the country and everyone on the trip is new to me. The cities are unfamiliar and the faces are unfamiliar. Somehow though, both are becoming more and more familiar every day, so that's good. I've seen so many beautiful places the last few days and we've been moving at a pretty solid pace with not very much time to slow down, which is understandable cause there is just a crazy amount of stunning things to see and talk about. But, I'm overwhelmed. It's funny because I don't necessarily think of myself as an introvert until I don't really get much time by myself and then it all kinda comes to the surface. 

Where was I? That's right, crying in my room from overwhelmsion (being completely consumed with overwhelmingness). There's something in my heart that feels uneasy being away from home. There's something in my soul that longs for adventure. That's a hard thing to balance. I know I've seen God here and I know He's at work. He's blessed me in ways that I lose sight of when I'm exhausted. He's opened my heart to a new culture and stronger coffee than I'm used to. He's revealed the messy and loving history of this imperfect world.

He gave me a roommate, sweet sweet Becca. We've wandered the streets, struggled with our Spanish, taken about a bajillion pictures, and been real about how we're feeling as we go along. Vulnerability is such a powerful thing... I highly recommend it. 

The point is... Even when I don't necessarily go looking for God, even on days when my mind is clouded and my attention span is similar to that of a grasshopper (actually grasshopper's are considered wise it seems like, but I haven't heard anything about their attention span... something to think about...) Anyway! Even when I'm all that, God is seeking me out. He's calling me holy. He's calling me loved. He's calling me worthy. 

He is working to reveal Himself to me. He's being as loud as He possibly can be, I just have to sit down, blow a fake bubble, and listen up! He wants to talk to me. He wants to talk to you. But let's not discredit the Creator of literally EVERYTHING. Let's not sell Him short. If we only expect God to talk to us through actual talking, I think we're gonna have several holes in our communication, because God has so much power to talk through any variation of avenues.

Look outside at anything!! There He is. The food you eat. The friends you have. The quiet moment you get to yourself. The birds chirping incessantly (birds personally annoy me to my core especially when I'm trying to sleep, but if you like them, love them, they need it from somebody!) These things, look at these things too.

But at the same time without hesitating, fervently seek God in prayer and wait expectantly for Him to talk back to you, just don't think that that's the only way He might say something...

He has just all the things to teach us if we'll only be still and listen for His sweet, mighty, and awe-inspiring voice that is woven through all of creation.

I want to challenge you today... Go. Go look for Him. He's there I promise and He wants YOU. He wants to know you and love you and cherish all that you are. He is so very fond of you. If you're having a hard time finding Him, take some time and look at the infinite stars in a pitch black sky... look at the intricacy of a flower, find Him in a really good cup of coffee and a moment of quiet. He is in everything. Anywhere you look, in one way or another, you can find Him. He wants to be found by you. 

I love you so very much and Dad loves you ever more than I ever could. He forgives you, love bug.

You have my whole heart,

Claire