Every trip involves a physical experience of moving body and gear from one place to another. However, every trip is a personal excursion into dimensions that are also entirely intangible. The unseen elements to travel often have the greater significance for what we take from our journeys. The trip to The Kilns the summer of 2005 was something much more than an amazing travel experience to a beloved author’s home and meeting remarkable people, though it certainly was all that. The unseen element for me was the fulfilment not only of an old, deep-rooted longing to go to England to study Lewis but of another need so deep I could barely have expressed it.
Deeper than I could give voice to I needed to hear from God that He knew me, not just as the Christian I tried to be but as the person I really was, and am, in my soul. I needed a tangible answer to an intangible hunger and to know from stem to stern that my God knew me and cared about me specifically. I needed to know in a physical way that He acknowledged my history, my losses, my dreams, my longings. When my husband Peter gave me the trip to The Kilns and when I went, stepping out in faith to do so, God resoundingly gave me proof of being known by Him.
Running through the images, especially with the music, of that first slide show brings back a swift, sharp surge of memory along with a renewed gratitude, wonder and joy. And then I feel something between somberness and sadness contemplating even briefly what my life would have been like had I refused to go that summer for the sake of “being responsible.” A poverty of relationship and experience would have been the result. A poverty that I would have sensed and suffered but been unable to identify and a longing for something I could not name but would always feel. I would have missed the formation of relationships that have since become my closest and most beloved circle of friends.
Walter Hooper at The Kilns, July 2005
Nan Freitag with Walter Hooper at The Kilns banquet dinner, July 2005
Susan and Joe Warren at The Kilns, July 2005
I would have never heard Susan Warren’s stories about their travels or seen the testament of God’s work in their life. I would never have met Jason and Nancy Lethcoe with whom I am still friends, or Nan Freitag who I saw again this past fall at the C.S. Lewis Writer’s Workshop at Camp Allen, or been humbled by the grace of Mike Ladra. I would not have met the renowned Walter Hooper or Aidan Mackey or Peter Cousins.
Aidan Mackey at The Kilns, July 2005
Mike Lauda at The Kilns, July 2005
Peter Cousins, July 2005
Far more sobering for me to realize is that had I chosen “the safer road” of the familiar that summer rather than responding to the whisper of the Holy Spirit in my heart I would have utterly missed one of the most amazing and life-changing things that God has ever given me: a taste of my dreams redeemed and the tangible experience of being known and loved by Him. I would have missed experiencing my Father’s heart for me. And I would be less alive now.
If you should hear a whisper in your spirit or have a longing to go to The Kilns, or perhaps to pursue something else that has been long set aside and you think is now lost and forgotten, risk sharing your heart with Him, take a step of faith and let Him lead you to your heart’s desire.
He knows and loves you, too.
Front beds at The Kilns
Six years ago this trip became one of the happiest experiences of my life, a pivotal turning point and a root of healing. This summer I will be returning to The Kilns. Oxbridge awaits!
Click here for Part 1
All of the images featured here are courtesy of me, Lancia E. Smith, and used with permission.
For more information about C.S. Lewis Foundation’s extraordinary programs at The Kilns: http://www.cslewis.org/ourprograms/thekilns/kilnstour/
Many blessings to you, friends!
Lancia E. Smith is an author, photographer, teacher, and business owner. A grateful lover of the Triune God, Lancia is passionate about disciple making. Reflecting an irresistible calling to the intersection of faith and the arts, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Cultivating, and of The Cultivating Project, a discipling initiative for Christians engaged in the arts. She is President and CEO of a thriving environmental consulting and construction firm based in northern Colorado which she runs with her husband Peter. They are parents to seven children, and are grandparents to a beloved flock of grandchildren. An inveterate book collector and giver, Lancia loves website and garden design, beautiful typography, David Austin roses, Marvel movies, road trips and being read aloud to by Peter. She cherishes every book she ever read by C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald.