Studying abroad in Europe for three months taught me a lot about being adaptable and making the best of uncomfortable situations.
According to the locals, we were traveling through the U.K. during the wettest winter in twenty years. Wet and cold combined is not a pretty picture when you’re trying to see historic outdoor sites, like we were this particular day in Wales.
This was our only shot at Wales–a one day tour to explore the ancient Roman ruins of Caerwent, the Norman Chepstow Castle, and Tintern Abbey of Wordsworth fame. But our professors had warned us: these sites were completely exposed to the elements, and the elements were going to be nasty.
By the end of it, after multiple stops and changes of clothes, we were tired and somehow still soaking wet underneath all our layers of clothing.
About this time in the semester, we were studying about C.S. Lewis’s life and teachings. One distinct personality trait of Lewis was that he didn’t mind rain: he found absolute joy in things like weather because it always does exactly what it is intended to do.
In Suprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis, author Terry Lindvall writes:
“To surrender to the quiddity of life–which means, to surrender to whatever life sends you–can be an adventure of unexpected and neglected delight. The commonplace becomes quite startling and marvelous when one actually pays attention to it and forgets oneself.”
Despite the bad conditions that day, it’s amazing how much fun we had! Once we embraced the fact that the weather was going to be less than pleasant, it didn’t bother us all that much.
Rain is rain, it’s meant to be wet, and there’s nothing we could really do about it.
Chepstow Castle, sitting up above the overflowing River Wye, was a treasure trove of secret passages and winding staircases, and as we walked the ramparts pretending to be kings and queens, the rain evaporated in our minds.
In fact, to celebrate how much fun we were having, a couple of us decided to let out some energy by running and dancing in the rain. It was a moment of pure freedom and delight that will always be the predominant memory of my short time in Wales.
That’s not to say I was always able to look on the bright side. There were assuredly difficult days when I just couldn’t find the right bus or when the distance from home seemed unbearable.
But those difficulties, when faced with an attitude of contentment and gratitude, couldn’t override the ecstasy of being fully alive in the present moment–welcoming whatever may come.
We’re nearing the end of my 31 Days of Unexpected Spiritual Encounters. You can catch up on the rest of the series here.
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