“One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
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There are magical people in this world. There are magical moments. At least, that’s the best way I would be able to describe it. Experiences that are striking and unexpected, that stop everything from moving, that capture our attention, ignite our imagination, leave a mark. There are places, too, that have this effect. You can visit them whenever you want, and the feeling they provide almost always seems to be there. Places where you feel centered and calm. Unafraid.
The old mission church outside of Tucson, San Xavier del Bac, is one such place. Every time I ascend the hillside overlooking the church, it feels like everything in the world has stopped. It feels like there is no pain or frustration, no madness, no confusion. I suppose religious places have this effect on a lot of people, but San Xavier is the only one I’ve visited that really made me feel at peace. Not the Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse, not Notre Dame, and certainly not the Holy Trinity Catholic church I attended when I was a child.
Walking through the woods, I was overcome suddenly. I took my eyes off the ground. I stopped and caught my breath, pouring out of me in thick clouds. The sound of shifting dry snow, that unusual crackling that sounds like it could almost be a campfire, except there’s no light or warmth. I looked around and it seemed as though the woods extended forever. I felt like I was in a Tolkien novel, or ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.’ This plot of earth begged to possess some kind of mystical name, like The Icefields of Tregaron, or The Blue Hallows of Kill Creek. Kansas is, after all, the Land of Oz, so I suppose I should be satisfied enough by that.
I may have only been there a moment, but it drew out; it felt like I was there for a long and enjoyable time. I didn’t feel cold.
And then I kept moving forward.