The roar of the falls alone rendered the place holy, wrapped as it was in time that stretched like a ribbon tens of thousands of years back through the barren, rocky wasteland of Iceland’s interior. To the north flash floods from the glacier Langjokull had given birth to the river Hvita all those years ago. That river had steadily inched its way south to the sea, the icy runoff slowly and methodically cutting through the basalt lava layers on which this active volcanic island had been built, turning crevices into gorges, gorges into canyons as the softer bedrock gave way to a profound force of nature.
It’s like asking me, “Who is your favorite child?”
Each destination offers unique gifts. Iceland is all about natural wonders so untouched as to lend the ethereal landscape a sublime experience unparalleled in this world. The vastness of her uninhabited interior – the desolate lava fields, the geothermal hot springs, the ancient volcanoes and the glittering glaciers – all conspire to highlight the isolation that blankets so much of this island nation (two-thirds of the 325,000 people living in Iceland reside in or around the southwest capital city of Reykjavik) straddling the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates just below the Arctic Circle. Spiritual was the best way to describe much of my experience while touring Iceland for two weeks during the summer of 2012. I often revisit her beauty when my soul needs a pick-me-up.
I came to understand during that tour how the desolation of those surroundings and the whimsy of the country’s collective imagination might gave birth to a heritage of legends and sagas as rich as the land is beautiful. One such beauty was Iceland’s Gullfoss, approximately 100 kilometers northeast of Reykjavik; she too comes with a legend. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I stood rooted in the present at the top of the ridge as the past majestically filled the moment. The sight and sound of that profound force thousand of years in the making was stunning. How many of mankind before me had stood in this spot marveling at this amazing wonder? Visitors along the highest precipice in this three-step staircase of falls were rendered matchsticks in the mist.
Bearing witness to the beauty and power of those falls I was reminded the true gift of life. Without this core element, water, there would be no life on this planet. Glorious was my reaction as my own body teemed with appreciation for my life, for all life. Enveloped in the velvety mist rising above the falls, I was acutely aware of my primal connection to this planet. It was a peaceful awareness, like the songs of whales settling in the dark oceans of my consciousness.