(Swan at Junaluska)
One thing I failed to mention earlier about our trip to Graveyard Fields was that after we’d hiked to the bottom of Upper Falls and were admiring its beauty, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man pointed out that there was something he called a “trail” going up to the top of the falls. But “trail” was much too kind a word for this slimy mud slick with a few gnarly tree roots that desperate fools could grasp as they clawed their way to the top. “Ha,ha…that’s not really a trail,” I said. “What kind of fools would take that?” (Never suspecting that I would soon know the answer.) Then I tried to distract him by gushing about how lovely the falls looked from where we were.
But Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is an adventurous sort and would not be distracted. He said, “Come on…I’ll help you. Let’s see what’s up there.” I eyed the mud slick. It was practically vertical—what was he going to do, carry me? I’m just not a vertical trail sort of girl. I’ll take horizontal or diagonal, thank you very much and leave vertical for all you daredevils out there.
But I’ll do almost anything to make Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man happy, and really, who wants to be a stick-in-the-mud? So up our intrepid adventurers went! Wait, make that: So up our two silly old arthritic fools went! I’d like to say we scampered up like mountain goats, but it would be more accurate to say we fought our way up tooth and claw, huffing and puffing like the Little Engine That Shouldn’t.
It was a pretty traumatic experience, so I don’t wish to discuss it further except to say that (1) as bad as it was going up, it was ten times worse coming down (2) waterfalls are really best viewed from the bottom (3) a stick-in-the-mud beats slick-in-the-mud or stuck-in-the-mud or perhaps stooge-in-the-mud every time and (4) if you’re going to slide down a mud slick, don’t wear light-colored pants.
Anyway, after that debacle, I was seeking something a little tamer for our next adventure. Preferably something civilized and horizontal. I found it at Lake Junaluska. Whan I went to their website, the first thing I noticed was a verse from the 23rd Psalm: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” The second thing I noticed was that even though Lake Junaluska is a retreat and conference center run by the United Methodist Church, they made it clear that they welcome all—regardless of faith or color.
And indeed, our souls were restored as we walked the 2.6 mile path around the lake. The day was cool and blustery, but our hearts were warmed by the friendliness of almost everyone we met and the peace we felt as we walked beside the still waters. I know I’m idealizing the place, but it really was such a balm to our weary spirits. I kept thinking about how much I’d love to live there, but quite likely the houses there are way out of our price range. At least I have the pictures here to remember that sweet day by.
But, of course, in this week of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of the importance of being thankful for what I DO have. I think a lot about Philippians 4:11: “…for I have learned, in whatever state I am, in this to be content.” This verse has special meaning when you know that Paul wrote it from prison. It’s so easy to see what others have (whether it’s money or talent or beauty) and think, “If I only had that, I’d be really happy.” But true happiness comes from within, not without. It is a choice. And everybody knows that neither money, talent, nor beauty brings happiness. You only have to look at Hollywood celebrities to see that truth. But learning to be content with what you have (and to be thankful for it) bestows a far more profound and lasting joy that sustains you through whatever life throws your way.
So, I wish you joy and peace this Thanksgiving season. May your souls be restored by the love of friends and family, and may you find contentment whoever and wherever you may be.
Even the ducks of different feathers flock together there.
A view of the lake
In the background you can see the lovely footbridge across the lake.
We loved this delightful topiary.
And I obviously loved the ducks. Even gave up my Ritz bits for them…
This cross, which sits high on a hill above Lake Junaluska, is alight at night. I hope to see it alight sometime.
“And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.”