Written and photographed by Matthia Duryea.
Sitting in a shady bend atop the Mutianyu section of Great Wall of China, listening to Dr. Preuss lecture on Ancient Chinese history, I could not help but feel giddy. Not only were we physically experiencing a part of the history we were learning, I had been looking forward to that moment since my junior year of high school, when I heard a similar lecture in World History and Literature.
I could reach my hand out and touch the stones which had been laboriously laid by the people of the Qi Dynasty in the 6th century, and restored by the Beijing government in the 1980s. I was in awe of the grandeour of it all, of how daunting the task must have seemed when someone first suggested, “Hey, let’s build a giant wall to defend ourselves against enemies in the North.” That thought alone was mind-boggling, but the landscapes stretching out in every direction literally took my breath away.
God is so incredibly good. Our creator made the vibrant green leaves on the shade-giving trees, the picturesque mountains in the distance, the buzzing bugs, and each passerby whose face displayed a quizzical look at the sight of 37 foreigners blocking their path. Most importantly, He put me there, in that moment, to gain a unique new perspective on the information I had learned four years before.
I could not help but smile, breathe in the clean air, rest my head against the cool stones and thank my wonderful maker for blessing me with such an amazing experience.