In the past two weeks I have been fortunate enough to spend one at the beach, and the other in the mountains…with a couple of days in Atlanta in the middle. As much of a whirlwind as it has been, I have to say that I am once again inspired by nature. The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of my all-time favorite roads, because somehow when I pull onto it, my stress level drops 10 points. It is as if civilization fades away somewhere in my rearview mirror. Despite the fact that a town or city is just off the exit ramp, it feels like another world…like a trail through the woods. No matter where you enter you are surrounded by breathtaking views. The air seems clearer, the sky bigger, and the sun brighter. No signs, no businesses, no traffic…just simple freedom.
The forests welcome me. Trees wave hello. The windows go down and the cares of life blow away with the wind. The road winds back and forth, back and forth giving the sensation and comfort of a rocking chair on grandma’s front porch. It is all so very inviting that I cannot wait to see what is around the next curve. Soon I am climbing and the green of the forest gives way to the blue ridges of the mountains. I rise above the trees in some places, allowing panoramic views that are stunning. The car practically drives itself into every overlook so I can take pictures that will never do justice to the reality of the image my eyes see. The mountains actually look like waves, stacked on top of one another all the way to the horizon…green in the foreground, to deep blue, then lighter blue, into a sort of purple gray. The valleys and peaks flow seamlessly together, rolling, flowing in an almost fluid way as I pass by. Rocks and boulders make themselves known. Quietly they stand among the trees, rising to heights that force me to take notice. Some mountains are sheer cliffs and their faces are weathered from centuries of watching over the valleys.
Scattered in the midst of the mountains are the waterfalls…most of which play hide and seek. A few stand out in the open allowing glimpses from a distance, as if inviting me to find the path. So much so, that I stop the car, put it in park, and take to the trail. The rhododendron blooms pink and white and gathers along the roadways, but are mostly along the trails leaving a carpet of pedals under my feet. The wind whispers and then shouts a greeting, as do the heart shaped rocks and leaves he leaves in my path. Down into the valley I walk, until the sounds of the waters reach my ears, causing my curiosity to move my feet faster. Standing with my face to the falls I breathe in the beauty, soaking it up for my return trip up and out. Taking another fork, I climb higher until I can look back and see the water throw itself over the cliff as a whole. The rumbling sounds sing and soothe even in their power.
Soon I am on the road again, looking at a sky so blue it shocks my eyes. The wispy clouds create feather like shapes, as if God himself painted them. Up, up, up I go until I can see nearly 360 degrees, and at least 4 states. On the mountaintop everything below looks small. The rivers are like lines drawn by a child zig-zagging across the green carpet. The clouds create shadows on the mountains that move along silently giving depth to the scene. Light breaks through in spots causing the greens of the trees to radiate from the valleys below. In the distance a hazy horizon makes it difficult to determine where the mountains end and the sky begins. The purples, and grays, and blues make an exquisite tapestry. Each mountain has its place, its distinct shape, perfectly placed.
Every breeze chills me at the same time it sets me free. Standing on the mountain, I close my eyes to allow the wind to gently blow God’s whispers to my ears- I am here. I am ever present. The trees sing to me, the mountains praise my name. The waters rejoice in my presence. The flowers turn their faces to me. The clouds illustrate my artistry. All things praise me. The sea, the waves, the mountains, the valleys…in the valley they lift their heads. On the mountaintop they sing a chorus: Glory to God in the highest. Holy and beautiful is he. Lift your voice and sing with us or the rocks will cry out, the trees will clap their hands. Join the song!
In the valley, on the mountain, at the sea…the song is the same. I hear it. It flows through me to God, as my spirit joins the chorus…singing amidst the inspiring creation that never stops its song. All I have to do is to hear and listen… and join in.