Amsterdam | Or What I Learned of Being Alone

I have fallen in love with Amsterdam. As I write this on a train bound for London, my heart aches to return to her winding canals and breathtaking architecture. No other city has ever captivated me quite like this. Yes, Amsterdam has its dark corners, but doesn’t everything in God’s creation? Isn’t this where we find the beauty of redemption?

The city’s grip on my heart is born out of this very idea. For all of it’s ugly history and exploitation, Amsterdam manages to maintain an almost transcendent quality. It’s as though the people of Amsterdam will not let their beautiful city be defined by it’s sins. IN this, I see myself.

Each afternoon the sun burns away the gray of morning and begins to bake the stones of the canals and cathedrals. It is then that the city seems to breathe deeply, basking in the warmth  and exposing all that is good, and fair, and right within her. 

Avenue of Poplars in Autumn

It’s a funny thing traveling alone, with no real plans and no one with whom you can map out your day. It is both exhilarating and infinitely lonely. Is that possible?

I found myself wandering the corridors of the Van Gogh Museum, daydreaming about the conversations I would have had with my wife, were she there by my side. She speaking softly in my ear of Van Gogh’s love for his brother, how his pencil sketches scream much more loudly than do his vibrant, textured scenes. “You can see the motion much more in his line work,” she would say without an ounce of pretense.

In one of the first halls I came to, I stood for what seemed like days, head cocked to the left, losing myself in what most would consider a rather drab and lifeless painting.

And yet, there I stood like a gawking child among a row of Autumn poplars, pulling me effortlessly down a path, the sky a sliver of blue, lined by golden leaves. A small cottage at the far end,  shutters flung wide, greeting me like an old friend. It was perhaps the truest picture of my insatiable need for escape, for a new road, a new coastline. And yet, what called to me most was the cottage. The thought that, at the end of all my wandering, awaits a warm cup and the embrace of someone I love. What a paradox.

One Comment

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  1. Man I know those thoughts. The place of being infinitely and momentously stirred but no one to share it with. Incredibly freeing but constricting.

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