Leon J. Podles :: DIALOGUE

A Discussion on Faith and Culture

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Travel Serendipity

June 13th, 2013 · 5 Comments

I am getting ready for my two week hike in Iceland, packing warm clothes and reflecting upon my travel experiences.

Occasionally magical moments come during travel; they can’t be planned for, but being in areas of natural beauty helps:

The night on the shore of Lake Champlain, when the full moon set across the calm lake, making a silver road, as my wife and I sat in Adirondack chairs listening to Moonlight in Vermont from the Basin Harbor Club.

Hiking through a vineyard outside Santa Barbara, climbing a hill and looking down across fields of lavender at the Pacific, and then turning and looking up the valley at vineyards and citrus groves and fields of flowers that seemed to go on forever.

Hiking in Glacier National Park alone on a day windy enough to raise ice caps on the lake; it was as struggle to stand upright. Coming into the Many Glacier Lodge which has a three story hall with a central fireplace. A fiddler was in the corner, playing Western waltzes. Families were in  rocking chairs around the fireplace, or sitting on the hearth, playing board games. It was the sweetness of the American West, sweeter than honey.

Climbing out of Canyon de Chelley with our Navajo guide, looking down at the red rock pinnacles and the green, green valley floor, feeling how the Navajos could be sick unto death when they were exiled from such beauty.

Standing with my wife at the end of the Camino de Santiago at Finisterra, the furthest west point in Europe, as the waves crashed below us, and telling her that I was glad to be with her here, at the end of all things.

And Iceland… we shall see. Although sometimes I am attracted to warmer climes.

I should like to rise and go

Where the golden apples grow;

Where below another sky

Parrot Islands anchored lie,

And, watched by cockatoos and goats,

Lonely Crusoes building boats;

Where in sunshine reaching out

Eastern cities, miles about,

Are with mosque and minaret

Among sandy gardens set,

And the rich goods from near and far

Hang for sale in the bazaar;

Where the Great Wall round China goes,

And on one side the desert blows,

And with bell and voice and drum,

Cities on the other hum;

Where are forests, hot as fire,

Wide as England, tall as a spire,

Full of apes and cocoa-nuts

And the negro hunters’ huts;

Where the knotty crocodile

Lies and blinks in the Nile,

And the red flamingo flies

Hunting fish before his eyes;

Where in jungles, near and far,

Man-devouring tigers are,

Lying close and giving ear

Lest the hunt be drawing near,

Or a comer-by be seen

Swinging in a palanquin;

Where among the desert sands

Some deserted city stands,

All its children, sweep and prince,

Grown to manhood ages since,

Not a foot in street or house,

Not a stir of child or mouse,

And when kindly falls the night,

In all the town no spark of light.

There I’ll come when I’m a man

With a camel caravan;

Light a fire in the gloom

Of some dusty dining room;

See the pictures on the walls,

Heroes, fights and festivals

And in a corner find the toys

Of the old Egyptian boys.

Travel often makes me feel, as Stevenson said,

The world is so full of a number of things,

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Tags: Travel

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mary // Jun 13, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    A respite from the evils in this world reminds us of the goodness and love of our Creator.
    Thanks Leon !

  • 2 Augusta Wynn // Jun 14, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Beautiful photos and reflections. Gorgeous poem. Thank you .

  • 3 Sibyl S. // Jun 16, 2013 at 4:26 am

    How naïve the poem sounds about ‘mosque and minaret’ and, as in the Catechism, Mohammedanism seems merely exotic and benign.

    We have learned differently. Any honest person with a translation of the Koran, a television and internet knows the truth is quite the opposite.

    Since 9/11/01, there have been 21,055 (known, published) deadly Islamic jihad attacks with multiple victims and casualties, against every religion and in every nation. This does not count war casualties and genocides, of which there are hundreds of thousands if not millions.

    Like any belief system, from Judaism to Christianity, to Nazism, Islam produces the character of its founder/s. The fruit of Islam is the opposite of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
    Islam produces or replicates the character and mindset of Mohammed: persons, families, tribes and nations at constant war within itself and with its neighbors. The conflict is produced by the dichotomy and incongruity between the mandates of Mohammed’s early writings of the Mecca period and the racist hateful, violent mandates written in Medina when he was tormented by dreams and visions of an angry spirit claiming to be the angel Gabriel. This sets up the followers of Islam to be in perpetual unrest. Indeed, a war between the Sunni (warlike, Medina writings) and Shiite (more peaceful, Mecca writings) began immediately after Mohammed’s death.

    Contrary to popular belief, Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam actually means: submission, conquest, surrender…by the sword if necessary.

    Isaiah 10:5 and Leviticus 26:17 tell us that God allows Islam, the spirit of Assyria, Egypt, Babylon to arise and take his people captive. II Chronicles 7:14 and Isaiah 31:8-9 tell us that these captors will be defeated only by repentance, return to the Lord, and His Word; that the Assyrian will be defeated by the Sword of the Lord, not the sword of man.

    Western nations have descended into evil. We have laws that enable us to break all of God’s Commandments and lately, some that would force us to do so.

    May we repent and return soon. God is bigger and stronger than our enemies, physical and spiritual. We are not.

  • 4 Mary // Jun 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Sibyl you make excellent points .
    Perhaps we are living on borrowed time?


    “[11] And they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and wounds, and did not penance for their works. [12] And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon that great river Euphrates; and dried up the water thereof, that a way might be prepared for the kings from the rising of the sun. [13] And I saw from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. [14] For they are the spirits of devils working signs, and they go forth unto the kings of the whole earth, to gather them to battle against the great day of the Almighty God. [15] Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. ”


  • 5 Augusta Wynn // Jun 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

    “Abou Ben Adhem, may his tribe increase.” Another wonderful poem by Leigh Hunt.

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