I stepped onto the concrete platform and stretched my legs, which had stiffened up 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 fifteen.
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 about the castle that I could find, and I became enamored with 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 up 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 few moments just to take the moment in.
We toured the castle’s interior, in which only fifteen rooms are finished, and learned about the castle’s mysterious and unique history.
The entire day felt surreal, a feeling that 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.
During the beginning of February, I began longing to visit another castle. I wanted so badly to drop everything and fly to Germany or Scotland. I was hungry for another adventure involving a castle.
As I’ve been reflecting on how I see God in the world around me this year, or “looking for lovely,” I’ve realized that there is a reason I love castles so much—a reason I became so enchanted by Neuschwanstein Castle.
Castles are one of my “lovelies.”
Through castles, I am reminded of God’s strength, power and faithfulness. Castles remind me that God is present in my small, simple life. They remind me of Psalms 91:2: “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”
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 the beginning of 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 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.
He is my hope.
Sometimes I see him working in big ways, like a large, beautiful castle in the Bavarian Alps.
But other times, his presence works through the smallest of moments, like a simple, stone castle on the Kansas plains.