In the late 1990s I was attending college in Belgium and volunteering with the American Red Cross overseas by teaching and working in volunteer leadership. During my stay I was lucky enough to receive a regional award granting me free ferry passage from Calais, France, to Dover, England. So with nothing more than a small Toyota pickup, a cheap $40 tent, and a cooler full of food in the back, my husband and I headed out with a very small wallet and a big dream of a wonderful new experience.
Tent camping our way from the White Cliffs of Dover, to the bustle of London and then north into the heart of a purple hazed heather-covered Scotland, we experienced the countryside as intended. We weren’t burdened by hotel check-ins or event schedules, we just followed the road, living amongst the scenery rather than viewing it from afar. We tasted Scotch Whiskey, searched for traces of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, and rambled among the ruins of walls and castles from long ago.
Brave and young, we found ourselves south of Inverness in the beautiful valley of a famous monster. Chancing at a campground on the shore, we pitched our small tent with only a foot or two of space from the front flap to the drop off that became the cold waters of Loch Ness. I remember going to sleep that night as the thick fog slowly enveloped the space before us and around us. So thick was the fog that I dared not even step out in the small spot of land in front of us for fear of slipping into the water that I could no longer see. In that moment, I looked at my husband and jokingly said, “Well, we’ll know if Nessie is real if we wake in the morning alive and not eaten.” While we shared a laugh and settled in, I felt a deep peace as we floated amongst the fog and clouds of an endless sky and land.
This peace returned to me at General Assembly in the fleeting of a thought. I stood amongst Unitarians at a precipice—a place where only things begin and never do they end. In a moment and at a place where Rev. Dr. Peter Morales, UUA President, spoke of the Spirit of Life and Love that we hold true as the catalyst in our personal lives and in our religious practices.
My hope is that at some point in our lives, and our earth’s future, we will all find that Peace.
Peace within. Peace amongst. Peace be with you.