Where to meet God?

Worship in Church and Nature in Iceland

Many of us meet our God in Church or other places of worship. Churches in Iceland are on one hand calm and serene and on the other they are often  dramatic and exciting too. During our few days in Iceland we saw many churches. But it was seldom the building itself that captured me, it was the exquisite settings that created both the drama and the feeling of calmness and harmony, very often at the same time.

I start with two modern churches in the images above. First the largest church in Iceland, Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik. When we were there it rained so much that I gave up on photographing it from the outside. Instead an image along the nave with the stunningly beautiful organ in the background will have to do. But it was a pity, because its dramatic architecture is best admired from the outside.

beside it to the right is the equally amazing modern church in the village of Olafsvik out on the western part of Iceland. Notice the waterfall in the background. It seems very small as I, in order to catch the whole church, had to photograph it with a very wide angle lens. But when we were there, the thunder of the waterfall dominated the hill, where the church was based.

These modern churches are followed by two more traditional and older churches, one white and one black, both dwarfed by the snow clad mountains in the background. The Ingaldshofkirkja near Hellisandur (to the right above) is situated on a hill and from whatever direction you are approaching the church, you are looking up towards it. And coming from the sea, as we did, you have the mountains in the background, sprinkled by snow and surrounded by stormy clouds. The sun broke through the clouds and sent rays of light shining on the hillside and the mountains behind. A setting worthy of a meeting place with the Creator of our world.

And next to it is the contrast, the black church of Budir against sunlit hills (images above to the left and below). A very popular wedding venue, very much like the little church in Sweden, where Jennifer and I married ten years ago (except that the colour of “our” wooden church was red).

Budir church set in its environment of mountains and sea
Budir church set in its environment of mountains and sea

And finally a church we came upon before daybreak, near Vik, when we were out to catch the sunrise. Reyniskirkja was lit up in a way that provided a contrast to the very dark, brooding hill in the background. It is only through the long exposure in camera that we now are able to see a little of the forms and colour of the hillside.

Reyniskirkja lit up at night against the obligatory mountain backdrop
Reyniskirkja lit up at night against the obligatory mountain backdrop

But the truth is of course that we can meet God everywhere, and some of us will never even notice His existence. He lives in our hearts and manifests himself in our actions. So it wouldn’t be correct to only include churches in this rhapsody of meeting places, but also some of the wonderful Nature that makes us feel close to God.

First a sunset at Vik, not far from where the nighttime photo of Reyniskirkja was captured. The sunrays have hit the clouds to the right, but it is really the reflections in the black sand at the bottom that makes the image:

Sunset at Vik. Far back to the left are the stacks of hard to erode rocks that remains, when the loser parts have broken down into pebbles and sand.
Sunset at Vik. Far back to the left are the stacks of hard to erode rocks that remain, when the loser parts have broken down into pebbles and sand.

The next image I wanted to show is an evening shot at the easternmost place I visited on Iceland, Stokksnes, east of Höfn. The sand dunes had formed mini hills covered with grass, lit up by the evening sun. And in the background a benign sea and towering mountains that invite you to a moment of contemplation:

Stokksnes at evening sunlight. The sand is like most of Iceland of volcanic origin.
Stokksnes at evening sunlight. The sand is like most of Iceland of volcanic origin.

And the ever present waterfalls, here captured just before sunrise (image below to the left). The large mountain in the background is called Kirkjufell, aptly named bearing in mind the theme for this blog. And finally an abstract motive; another growler broken up from the icebergs that the glacier at Jökullsarlon calved. Polished by the sea, it was now lying on the beach waiting to be melted into oblivion: