We spent our sixth anniversary closer to home than usual; the honest answer being that we could afford to go no further. The skyrocketing gas prices have pinched us hard after an avalanche of medical bills, but God is faithful. Ever so.
We stepped into a refuge of old: family land in the hamlet of Shady Valley. It's a tiny, one blinking red light dot of humanity high in the Appalachians, with one minuscule country store, and the nearest civilization a forty-five minute drive away. The town, and the property itself, border the Cherokee National Forest. The only way in is a half mile hike, and the only accommodations, a worn out and duct tape patched tent on its last legs.But the memories sit like jewels along the path, rising up to greet us as fern stretches towards the sun. Here is where he proposed, here is where my life changed forever. Here is where I found God, gazing at trees that stretch leaves in exalting praise up and out of my vision, clouds dancing in achingly beautiful patterns. Leaning to the ground, I can actually hear the heart beat of humanity. From dust we've come. To dust we will return. Like the sparks flying ever upward, we are. It was here that I first understood. First saw His face, shrouded as it was. It was as much a celebration of love with my Beloved as it was a celebration of the Lover who made us both. Who could have told that six years ago, two broken sinners would be brought together in holy union, and become one? Who would have thought out of the shards of fractured life, such beauty and blessing? It amazes me as I gaze across the years.
And the quiet. Oh how we needed it, though we did not know it at the time. In the cacophony of being parents to four children under the age of five, we had forgotten each others' voice. Is that you? Do you really look like that? Wow. I still like you. What exactly is it that we've been doing these last few months? Oh. Has it really been that long? Where are we going from here? Where have we been? Dreams whispered furtively, prayers lifted for the children and our marriage. Remembering faithfulness in a world gone mad. Hearts lifting, lungs expanding. Sanctuary.