a retreat into the wilderness

I am, on some fundamental level, a homebody with a wandering heart. When I’m not learning the contours and whispered stories of a new place abroad, I’m intoxicated by the quiet joy and beauty of everyday moments at home. I am always wandering; I am always home.

This little trip to Tassie has been persistently battling its way into our lives. Like a good book that nestles itself into your hands but then has to be put down after being interrupted by some urgent call of your name over and over again, this trip has been in a constant state of planning and unplanning for the better part of the last two years.

In its first iteration, it was dreamt up as a family retreat for my family two springs ago – a time of adventure and intimacy for all six of us. In the worst of the derailings – rather than spending those weeks breathing in fresh air by the sea and breathing out the joy of being so fully known and fully loved by one another, we spent those days and nights gathered by a hospital bed as my beautiful mum’s battle with cancer reached its brutal crescendo, leaving us to press on with the exquisite pain of the absurd.

In its second life, Dickson and I imagined that we might be able to venture across the southern strait in the months that followed – those strange months where the intensity of your grief settles itself in the aching crevices of normality. We hoped for respite, for moments of self-forgetfulness suspended between that little island’s stunning ruggedness and our Creator’s loving voice. But before we could inch any closer, closed borders and lock downs told us, maybe another time.

And so, finally, in its third visit marked by the turning of summer into autumn, our little trip turned into reality, steeped in the depth of our anticipation and delight. As the world around us slowly woke up from the painful daze of a global pandemic, we found ourselves stepping off a plane onto the quiet and stunning shores of Tasmania.

With nothing between us and Antarctica except the sea, we let the island sweep us away, together.

Days were spent in contemplation, creation, wonder and peace. We stayed languorous in bed or perched by picture windows gazing out to the ocean until we felt drawn to take a bath at midday or at dusk, laying warm in the steam and exchanging words for thoughts for dreams by the fire that always seemed to be burning. We let ourselves do nothing. We wandered between rolling hills, glistening lakes and rugged mountains. We basked in the sunshine and got caught in the rain. We took dips in the ocean, played board games and everything was always funny. We ate oysters and gelato, drank tea and sipped wine. Without even trying, we made time for our life and space for our souls.

Until next time, Tassie. You were a dream.

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