Last week, all week, we spent in Pigeon Forge and Gaitlinburg, Tennessee. Six of us went there, my wife, our two kids, and two of their friends. We rented a cabin, rather than stay in a hotel. We cooked breakfast, but ate out in the evenings. Lots of choices of places to eat, too. Two days we spent at Dollywood Park, on rides and taking in some shows. While walking around, lots of country and folk bands played. The weather was warm, but not overly humid, and it didn’t rain, like it did the last time we visited. We took time to explore tourist shops in Gaitlinburg.
The thing about the entire area is that people, while mostly tourists coming for the entertainment as well as visits to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, were a model of behavior. Lots of people. Lots of respect for each other, too. It wasn’t too crowded, in comparison with Memorial Day weekend, but there were still a lot of people. This respect, for lack of a better word, was especially noticeable while driving: people maintained a safe driving distance, didn’t drive too much over the speed limit, and made way for others to enter their lanes of travel when needed.
The experience left me relaxed. And one the way back we stopped at a trail head that crossed a river. We didn’t walk far, but played on large boulders that sat like islands clustered together in the river. We also stopped for some photo opportunities at Newfound Gap, that is a ridge along which the Tennessee and North Carolina boundary runs.
Yes, the time there left us relaxed, feeling good.
That changed as soon as we entered the Atlanta metro area. The rush of traffic pressed against us. The tension stripped the beneficial peace we’d found in the Smokey Mountains. We were home. Which of course makes me thing about why exactly do we remain in such a place such as this, in which we live. We ended up farther from my wife’s office than she’d originally thought possible, when she accepted a transfer to Atlanta. I’d hoped, of course, to live even farther away. But at the time we moved here, we were on the rural edge, just beyond the metro growth ring around Atlanta. That ring expanded over the last few years to encompass our home.
What we’ve done to cope is build a garden between our home and the creek that runs behind us. We’ve mixed hundreds of yards of top soil into the red clay, making it possible to grow a wide variety of edible and medicinal plants and flowers and roses and trees. We’ve expanded and expanded the garden to make a small enclave that promotes some feeling of serenity despite the occasional noise from the office buildings across the creek–office buildings that have morphed into small, light industry with associated noises even at the early hours of the morning.
It’s easier to find peace beside a river, in the mountains. But peace isn’t external. Peace is internal. And, yes, true and lasting peace comes from knowing the Lord Y’shauJesus as Lord and Savior. Yet, in this world, we must find some worldly peace, too. Our bodies need it. And if I can find some measure of peace amid the rancor stressed out people rushing to make a living, then that is a good thing. Shalom!
Lord Bless, Keep, Shine . . .