When I last wrote about the sabbatical which is underway (read part 1 here), I was in the middle of my time at Schloss Mitersill, in Austria. That time has now ended! I’m currently writing at a hostel in Oxford, and tomorrow I’ll be catching a flight to Nairobi, before heading to Nyeri, Kenya. I’m very happy to report that my time at the Schloss finished well. This, of course, means that I’m certainly sad to see it end. But before I talk more about that, here are some pictures of the Schloss and the gorgeous surrounding area:
The side of the castle and Mittersill far below
Looking down into Mittersill at night
One of many beautiful sunsets looking from the Schloss deck
The courtyard through a window
The chapel and mountains beyond
A lonely path I took one day
Snowing on the castle at night
The bottom of Krimml waterfall
There are two things that primarily defined the latter half of my time in Austria. First of all, I had the opportunity to have a 3-day, intensive, guided retreat of solitude and fasting. The significance of this time for me deserves its own entry, and I wish I had the time to expound on what happened in my heart over even that short period. In sum, God showed me his love in a new way, almost without the intermediation of my (ever-striving) intellect. It was an experience with which I was not before familiar, and it made all the questions and frustrations I came into the time with (including my physical trials) seem somewhat unimportant in comparison to that love.
In fact, it was that result that stayed with me during my whole time in Austria. Unfortunately, though I continued to pray about many of the issues which caused me to embark on a sabbatical (my arms, etc…), none of these were resolved. Fortunately, I no longer believed that the resolution of these problems was of paramount importance! What had replaced them? I’m not sure exactly, but I could describe it as the sustaining love and peace of God. As I said, I would love to expound at length on the process I went through during the solitude, fasting, and meditation, but this summary will have to do for now. I will, however, share a few pictures I took while on a long walk I took during the retreat:
A floating mountain!
Dramatic picture of an Austrian house
B/W of a lone farmhouse
Secondly, I’d like to share the results of a project I started and completed while at the Schloss. When I first arrived, I began to play around on one of the few pianos at the castle, and soon formed an idea for a concept album. Miraculously (given how slow I usually write music), I wrote seven full songs. Equally miraculously, I had time before leaving to do a basic recording of the whole project. I’ve since done a simple mixing job on them and have put all of them up for download. But first, here are some pictures:
The piano set-up, in the Green Room
I recorded vocals in the chapel, which was, as you’d imagine, great for reverb as well as inspiration
Most often, I had to record vocals at night by the light of my headlamp!
The album, called Suite Apocalyptique, is special in a way, since there’s one theme that guides both the music and the lyrics. Instead of writing about it here, I’ve created a PDF that includes an explanation of the background for the album, as well as all the lyrics. You can download it here – I recommend reading it before listening to the album.
Now, I would love for you to download and listen to the album! It is compressed into ZIP format (which both Mac and Windows can extract easily), and you can get it here: Suite Apocalyptique. I certainly welcome any comments or feedback! I hope the album might be meaningful to you in some way; certainly I have all of you who are supporting me in this venture to thank directly for this project!
Well, there’s much more to say about my time in Austria, of course. Many paragraphs could be spent telling stories and thanking the Schloss community for its support and friendship to me, and for welcoming me swiftly and warmly to the center of their life together. Perhaps such thoughts will float across the blog in the future!
Now, I am in Oxford, where I have been for a few days while waiting for my flight to Kenya (logistics created a bit of a time gap, and it made sense to spend it in the UK). I’ve enjoyed wandering the streets and footpaths, visiting my favorite pubs (including the Eagle and Child) and seeing new neighborhoods (like Iffley and Jericho) that I hadn’t before. I’ll leave you with a few pictures from here:
A lovely little lane
Christ Church cathedral
Thank you for reading! In a few short hours I’ll be joining Lara (of TrippingOnWords) at Heathrow. Then it’s off to Nyeri, Kenya, to the Tumaini orphanage. I’m not sure exactly what’s in store for me there, but I’m sure it will be awesome. I look forward to sharing those experiences at the end of this month, when I return home!