Beauty Echoes in the Abbey by Resilience Expert and Fantasy Writer Elizabeth Van Tassel

Tintern Abbey - Photo Credit: Elizabeth Van Tassel

Beauty Echoes in the Abbey

Studying in England for a summer, many years past, I was able to hike in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, right where he wrote A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey in Wales. It was a glorious day, with full summer sun. Meadows were filled with cows along the path that led to a sturdy hike into rising hills and along wooded trails.

When we got to a break in the trees, a light breeze blowing, we gazed down at the Abbey ruins far below. Then, with lilted speech, my English professor read the poem to us, and all these years later I remember the awe it inspired. Beauty became more magnificent to behold in that moment. Little did I know that Wordsworth’s philosophy in the very poem itself, of storing away beautiful moments, would prove to be a lifeline in big moments of difficulty and challenge down my own road in life.

Fast-forward ten years, to the middle of the night, smoke swirling, our doorbell ringing, and learning we had about five minutes to evacuate our home in Southern California. The Witch Creek wildfire had its blazing fingers across the street. In minutes, we packed the family and a few memories up, and left the area. In the hours to come our home burned to the ground on national television as we fled, happy to be alive, but stunned to realize we had lost all our possessions.

How do you recover from something so devastating? How do you teach your children about goodness and giving when all is taken?

Perhaps the most important step in our recovery was realizing first that every good thing comes from above. My husband’s first words, after getting the call that all was lost, were, “It was all His anyways.”

But eventually, when a huge season of loss ensues, you look for something greater than yourself to remind you that you’re not defined by your tragedy. That you won’t always be walking in death and destruction. That the essence of you may be changed, but there are greater hopes still alive in those dark moments.

For me, beauty has been that kind of lifeline. Our family learned to deal with the darkness, and then to set it aside and enjoy a walk on the beach, a fun park with our kids, or a dinner out. Those pockets of grace served to refill us, and still do, for the “dreariness of life” as Wordsworth said.

I’ve collected a few shards of pottery and items from our old life into a curio table in our family room. Most days, there are piles of Legos and books stacked on top. But if you gaze in deeper, a keepsake from my mountain hike in Wales still lives in the hub of our lives. I found this Welsh Love Spoon in the valley beside Tintern Abbey. I’ve always wondered why this made it through the fires, due to the kindness of a fire fighter who set it aside.

Welsh Love Spoon

Perhaps it was for you, and not for me. To encourage you to find moments of beauty in your daily walk to bring you strength and hope, and not lose your deepest dreams along the way. And that, in itself, brings me great joy.

Selection of A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth, vs. 24-36

Though absent long,           
These forms of beauty have not been to me,      
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:   
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,           
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, 
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,          
And passing even into my purer mind     
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too 
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,        
As may have had no trivial influence      
On that best portion of a good man's life;           
His little, nameless, unremembered acts 
Of kindness and of love.     

Miles Above Tintern - Photo Credit: Elizabeth Van Tassel

Elizabeth Van Tassel, resiliency expert and fantasy writer, has really lived a life with diamonds, wildfires, and miracles. Called “a modern-day Madeline L’Engle,” Elizabeth winds tales of wondrous gems and destructive loss into fantastic fantasy for the next generation and beyond. She also speaks, gives classes, and blogs weekly for adults and kids about living a resilient life. A wildfire survivor who’s lost everything and bounced back, and guided her family through life-threatening medical trials, Elizabeth uses her creativity and stories of survival to help others rise above circumstances and begin meaningful life changes. She and her products have been featured on television, bringing others resources for hope.

To supply her daily fix of beauty, she’s known to use her gemology expertise to hunt down pretty gems and scenic moments, and her thirst for adventure to seek out great family-friendly activities (seen regularly on her Instagram HERE and YouTube videos HERE. There are free gifts and resources for resilience on her new website, at She supplies moments of fantasy and deeper resources for life’s challenges on her author Facebook HERE, moments of beauty on her Pinterest HERE, great reads to discover on her Goodreads account HERE, and tidbits of intrigue on her Twitter HERE

When disaster strikes, or a major life change happens, there’s a myriad of systems, decisions, and situations that happen all at once. Paperwork climbs in the corners, threatening any bit of hope with a feeling of desperation. And many of your key decisions, and, even your outlook, during this critical transition will change the course of your whole life! Elizabeth is a veteran survivor of wildfires that took it all and also several family medical emergencies that changed their lives in a moment. In an easily downloadable video series, she shares her seven steps to living resiliently within the context of any kind of new beginning.


  1. Hi Dawn! I'm excited that the new site is working, here's the link!

    1. It's gorgeous, Elizabeth! Congratulations! It's wonderful to see your labor come to fruition.


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