Tennessee is the Place for Me (A poetic journey)
"Every Happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of Life is to get the message" ~ Malcom Muggeridge
In 2005 my husband and I decided take a weeks vacation for our anniversary which falls in late September. Vacationing was not a familiar activity to us. I had rarely left the state of Minnesota other than one prior trip to Arizona in my 40 years of life.
Life at that time had been particularly stressful with various life events that seemed to come colliding together in a 10 year stretch of one crisis upon another. Going somewhere far away seemed like a dream, and it was.
We left for Tennessee in anxious anticipation looking forward to life without phone calls, unsolvable dilemmas, and crisis events which had become the norm for us. I found myself strangely nervous of letting go and being so far from my comfort zone. It would seem odd that one could find a comfort zone in such chaos yet it was all I had known for so long. It took a bit to wind down from it all.
Hurricane Rita, the 4th most intense Atlantic hurricane made landfall in the gulf region the day before our departure which resulted in a rainy mist that followed us all the way to Tennessee. We would get ahead of it driving and wake up to it again the next day.
We camped along the way simply because I am too cheap to pay just to sleep in a hotel. Camping was once was an activity I used to hate but having a tent that pops up in 30 seconds helped and keeping the menu simple made it very pleasant.
Our favorite spot was a small campground in Cloverdale Indiana. It was quiet and peaceful and I was the most thrilled to be able sit outside in the evening without being mauled by mosquitoes and it was warm.
A Poetic Moment
Basking in the reflections of dancing flames
Rekindling dying embers
All but smothered by the relentless deluge of crisis and tragedy
Flames prophetically leaping in joyous revival
Illuminating the darkness that lingers in the periphery
It's radiating warmth beckons us to forget the dankness of the cool at our backs
Gradually penetrating the icy stares of the reproaches of our past and apprehensions of our future
Gently dissolving the fortifications against life's harsh realities.
It asks us only to behold it's moments and enjoy it's presence
Never to lament nor anxiously anticipate
Allowing us only enough light to comprehend that which is within our reach
We really didn't plan a particular destination other than wanting to see the Smoky Mountains. We first arrived at Pigeon Forge Tennessee. I could see the Smokies in the distance but I found myself distracted from the natural scenery to all the man made hype and entertainment created to lure the tourists. Every nook and cranny of free space was littered with beckoning signs to events, places, and shopping. The roads were clogged with tourists partaking of their offers.
I couldn't help but ponder on the spiritual application to this sight. How the true and natural beauty of the eternal life lies just up ahead but instead we get side tracked and distracted by the lower things of this world. Things that rob us of our resources and leave us empty handed.
We press on to Gatlinburg that sits right at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A charming little town quite unlike Pigeon Forge. Although tourism is the major industry of the town it was not the circus we had seen previously.
I had concluded at that point that I didn't want to camp. I am terrified of bears. I didn't realize at the time that my home state of Minnesota actually has the highest population of black bear in the U.S.
We got a decently priced hotel room at the Microtel inn. with a spectacular view. I looked down at a little historic church down below that had a sign with a heart on it that read,
"Thank God for all your blessings"
I knew that God had blessed us with an oasis of a restful moment in time. I finally let go and truly relaxed knowing it was all in His care.
I found myself becoming unusually adventurous and trying things that for the most part I am fearful of things like heights and horse riding.
Another Poetic Moment
Over coming things I fear
Like distance, height, and horse
Surrendering to each moment's dread
And finishing it's course
Rewarded with enchantments
Only courage is able to see
His orchestrated confrontations
Had gloriously set me free
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I was a bit nervous about driving mountain roads. We don't have them in Minnesota and my depth perception was easily dizzied. I was amazed how gentle the curve and inclines were.
Ribbons laced through mountains
Gently gliding us along
Staging panoramic splendors
Like the chorus of a song
Wooing us up higher
In it's delicate incline
Sporting occasional precipice
Of heights and depths divine
About it's genteel slope and grade
Provoking in us awed applause
Of the wonders He has made
It rained that day but the forest of giant tulip poplar trees sheltered us and kept the crowds away. Tulip poplars grow to 165 feet with no limbs or foliage until about 80 to 100 feet.
I thought the rain has come that day
To dampen our regards
But sheltered us in peaceful mists
Baring visible rewards
Embracing us in the quietness
Of those who turned away
Revealed to us the deepest hues of green
A forest could display
Towers in the wilderness
Reaching for the sky
Shelters all that lies beneath
Never asking why
Stoic in their posture
We hide within their strength
They conceal us from the outside world
As we admire them at length
I couldn't help admire the gently flowing river that didn't seem to have a care in the world. It simply carried on to it's destination.
Oh gentle babbling brook of mine
What is it that you say
Caring nothing of the obstacles
Like boulders in your way
To tumble in abandon
To a place unknown
How is it that you carry on
In chatter without groan
Clingmans dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Highest point in Tennessee. On a clear day you can see up to 100 miles in any direction. We hiked up a steep 1/2 mile trail to get to the top.
When we came down my husband surprised me with an anniversary ring that included both of our birthstones with a diamond in the middle. He told me he wanted the diamond at the summit of the ring to represent God. I couldn't help but notice that setting was in the shape of mountain roads.
Upon our return home I was looking out over our deck and noticed these very same flowers (blue asters) were growing next to one of the deck posts. On approximately 80 acres of land I hadn't seen them anywhere else on my property.
Mammoth Caves Kentucky
On our way back home we decided to visit Mammoth Caves National Park, home to the worlds longest known cave system. I found it interesting that our vacation took us to great heights and great depths. Very reflective of the season of life we were in at the time.
From the top of royal pinnacles
To a world below
Contrasting in it images
Realities to show
Illuminated peaks of green
Bathed in limitless light
Darkness one can't comprehend
Obscuring every sight
The silence of the mountain top
Invites a Holy hush
The quiet angst within the cave
Urges me to rush.
Green River Ferry Ride
My husband was much more interested in caving than I was so I decided to go for a ferry ride on the Green River. Because it was at the very end of the tourist season it was only me and two other people so the guide turned off his microphone and let us sit up front and I just enjoyed the view while he quietly shared a few interesting points about the river. One of the facts was that the reason the river is green is because of limestone rather than algae. Anyway, it was a perfect way to cap off a much needed respite from the storms of life.
My eyes are bathed in shades of green
Soothing my despair
Tranquil reflections of a world above
Erasing all my care
The stillness and the calm it speaks
Whispers in my ear
To leave behind my anxious thoughts
Regretfulness and fear
* A random fact: Green is the most soothing color to the eye which reminds me of the 23rd Psalm
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures"
One final poem
A match made in heaven
A snapshot from above
Displaying heavenly romance
And set in frames of love
A glimpse of the divine
Packaged in the moments
Of experience and design
Invitation to the splendors
That reflect His majesty
Oasis from the storms of life
Held in silent Reverie
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" ~ Romans 1:20
Keith Urban "God's Been Good to Me"
© 2011 Tamarajo