Castles are reminders of strength, security

I stepped onto the concrete platform and stretched my legs, which had stiffened during the two-hour train ride through the German Alps. When I looked up, my breath caught in my throat.

There she was, peeking through the summits of the beautiful Alps. There stood the castle I had dreamed of visiting ever since I was 15.

On our last day in Germany during my trip to Europe last January, we were supposed to visit a museum.

However, I couldn’t bear knowing that I was only two hours away from one of the most famous castles in the world and didn’t visit it. So, my friends and I convinced our leader to let us plan a day trip out to Neuschwan­stein Castle.

Castles have always caught my eye in ways no other buildings can. I love the way they command their landscape. I love the history they hold.

I can trace my love for castles back to my freshman year of high school, when I chose Neuschwanstein Castle as my topic for a research paper. I spent the next few weeks researching every possible detail I could find about the castle, and I became enamored of the castle’s architecture and history.

There was a dense fog that hung around the castle on the day I visited, which gave the day a magical, otherworldly feel.

Instead of paying to take a horse-drawn carriage up the mountain, we opted to walk. With the castle looming above us, we hiked the paved road, which was surrounded by waterfalls and snow-covered trees that framed incredible views.

As we rounded a corner and the full castle came into view, I had to pause for a time just to take in the moment.

We toured the castle’s interior, in which only 15 finished rooms are finished, and learned about the castle’s mysterious and unique history.

The entire day felt surreal, a feeling I still can remember to this day.

I could gush on for a few pages about my day at Neuschwanstein, but I do have a bigger point to this story.

In early February, I began longing to visit another castle. I wanted so badly to drop everything and fly back to Germany or Scotland, where some friends who went on Tabor’s British Isles trip from which they had recently returned. Their stories of majestic, old castles made me hungrier for another castle adventure.

As I’ve been reflecting on how I see God in the world around me this year, or “looking for lovely,” I’ve realized there is a reason I love castles so much, a reason I become so enchanted by Neuschwanstein Castle.

Castles are one of my “lovelies.” Through castles, I am reminded of God’s strength, power and faithfulness.

While I was longing to visit a castle, I was also longing to be reminded of that truth. My future was still very blurry and life was leaving me desperate for hope. I was expecting God to lead me to a big, Neuschwan­stein-sized castle, but instead, on a beautiful, sunny day in early February, God led me to a tiny castle on the Kansas plains: Coronado Heights.

The castle there is by no means breathtaking, although the view from the castle isn’t too shabby.

But the small castle’s solid, stone architecture whispered the same reminders about God to me. God is strong. God is powerful. God is faithful. God is my hope.

Sometimes I see God working in big ways, like a large, beautiful castle in the Bavarian Alps.

But other times, I must be still and feel God’s presence in the smallest of moments, like a simple, stone castle on the Kansas plains.

Bailey Kaufman, a Hills­boro native, is editor of the Tabor College student newspaper this year.