Sabbatical Part 2: Leaving Austria / Suite Apocalyptique

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!

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan worked as a programmer in tech startups for several decades, but is also passionate about all kinds of creative pursuits and academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively, and is working on another in theology. An American-Canadian, he lives in Vancouver, BC and has way too many hobbies.

4 replies on “Sabbatical Part 2: Leaving Austria / Suite Apocalyptique”

Hi Jonathan,
Thanks for keeping us updated.
We just got back from Dublin – it was great to be away from the castle for few days but it’s sad to come back here and have so many new and old friends gone – we miss you having you around here. Have a great sabbatical and BIG thanks for introducing us to Splendour Hyaline!!!

Hiya Jonathan. Got the link from Clair and Lara whose site I frequent. Had a couple of questions:

1. What camera do you use? I love the quality of your photos…absolutely amazing…stunning…

2. How the heck was Austria? That place has always been at the top of my list of countries to visit and, preferably, live in.

Hope you have a grand old time in Kenya. Now I’m gonna go have a listen to your music.

God bless your time there.


Hi Lara, thanks for stopping by!

to answer your questions:

1. I use a Canon S400 (the digital elph). It’s almost 4 years old but still takes great shots; I always use manual mode and mess with the exposure and such, but beyond that I think it’s just that the places actually looked like you see them!

2. Austria was excellent. Too expensive for me to live in, I think, but it was amazing indeed.

Let me know what you think of the music!

hi jonathan,
i don’t know you, but i, during one of my lonely search for all things schloss, stumbled across your blog. glad to hear you sabbaticaled there. i was just there as a volunteer last year and seeing your photos made me sigh. i’ll download your album – sweet that you got to record in the chapel. i note you are now aquainted and befriended by mariusz&christy. gotta love ’em. take care, enjoy africa.
p.s.if you’d like to visit my blog: , please do.

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