Recently I had the pleasure of running away to the mountains of North Carolina for a six-day retreat. My daughter and I left very early on a Sunday morning, planning an extra hour into the commute so we could stop and take pictures along the way whenever the urge struck me. And, believe me, it struck quite often, but we arrived right on time.
On Monday morning I deposited my daughter at summer camp and returned to my solitary cabin for several days of quiet reflection. But on the way back to the cabin, I drove around and took pictures of several churches. You see, for a while now I’ve wanted to start a collection of photos of churches, particularly the old ones. Not all the churches I photographed were particularly old, but they were attractive, in my opinion. And most, though not all, were Baptist. But that’s just because I’m in the south. I didn’t choose them because they are Baptist, but because they were there in front of me. Here are a few of the ones I saw.
My original plan for hiking, photography, and painting was modified a bit, thanks to the broken foot. But the cabin had a spacious covered porch with a lovely clearing that was visited daily by deer, birds, and insects of all kinds. So instead of carrying my canvasses and paints, I instead took my Bible, books, notebooks, and guitar. And, of course, my camera was always at the ready. In fact, I took somewhere between 800-1000 photos during the 6 days that I was away from home. (Only my sweet daughter has the patience for my aficionado.)
About a half mile down the mountain from where I was staying, on the side of the road, was a bench surrounded by wildflowers. Beyond the bench was an overlook that had a glorious view of the distant mountains and the city below, and from there I could even hear a nearby waterfall. A trail passed by this point and led to the waterfall. After seeing several seniors go and come along the trail, I convinced myself that I too could visit the site, broken foot and all, and I determined to do so on Friday. But God, in His mercy, sent a thunderstorm, and I stayed put in the safety of the cabin, content to read my book and write another poem. To be honest, I really didn’t miss hiking as much as I thought I would. It was nice to sit back and relax, to watch the hummingbirds, to say hello to the does and the fawn who came to greet me, to gaze at the flames as they danced in the chiminea, to read from my Bible and some good books, to write a few poems and some lengthy journal entries, and to sleep every morning until the spirit moved.
The return trip was a bit out of the ordinary—or should I say, a bit old-fashioned. My electronic navigation did not like the mountains, so I had trusted my instincts the entire week, whenever I left the cabin for any reason. But now that it was time to go home, time to travel several hundred miles across five states, I didn’t particularly care to drive “by instinct.” Nor did I care to drive through Atlanta. I’ve driven through Atlanta four times in the last year, and I’ve had my fill of that city and its crowded highways. Anymore, I would as soon go an hour out of the way on state roads as sit an hour in city traffic, wondering how to get in the right lane.
After missing the turn to camp—twice—I prayed and asked the Lord to show me my mistake, and He did. I made my way up the mountain to the camp, retrieved my happy daughter, back down the mountain to take a few more photos of farm and church scenes in town, then started our journey home.
At our earliest convenience, we topped off our gas and purchased a Rand McNally Road Atlas, and my daughter got a hands-on learning experience in navigation. As it turns out, she is an excellent navigator. I did keep the digital map open for convenience. The map itself would load, it just wouldn’t navigate. We had a very nice drive, with perfect weather.
If you have made it all the way to the end of my narrative, then I thank you. Most of my posts are written to inspire or to instruct. This one was written merely to share a bit of myself, as I have imagined you sitting by my side on the sofa as we turn the pages of the photo album and recall the memories of this latest excursion. I do love God’s creation, getting to see it firsthand, and observe His creativity at work. Truly, our God is an awesome God! If you don’t believe me, just open your eyes and look in the mirror.