When I was younger my family used to picnic in the mountains at Chimney Tops picnic area and occasionally hiked to the peaks it was named for and rested in the shadow of. I loved it there, I still do. I don't go much anymore because its far away and I think I'm busy.
The river there is powerful and littered with giant boulders. It's wild. Just sitting at a table in at place with a bucket of chicken felt like adventure. As a kid I explored every inch of the river there. Jumped from boulder to boulder, warmed myself in the sun on rocks large enough to build a house on, swam in pools deep and clear, and I hid. I hid behind rocks and under fallen trees. I found places that were mine. I was a great adventurer conquering worlds previously unseen. I laid claim to them and them to me.
Years later, after my dad died, I found myself there again. When I felt alone or afraid in the noise and pressure of life filled with loss and pain I would retreat to the one place I knew was mine. Unchanged and wild. It wasn't adventure I was seeking, it was rest. The things that fill our bellies with adventure often fill our hearts with peace.
I've said I don't go there often. Its not the first place you get to in the mountains. We usually go to Townsend or Cade's Cove, they're closer. On the edge of the mountains. Kind of far, kind of wild. They are quiet and safe. The "Tops" are further up and further in. Less accessible and harder to find. They are difficult and loud. They are rugged and fewer go there.
Today my heart aches for that place. I want to live with a faith and explore with a God that is wild and unsafe. To be further up and further in. I want peace and rest. Not the fake crap I create for myself with apathy and distance. I don't want isolation. I want adventure. The kind of adventure that pours you out and leaves you open and exposed. I want to run and jump and bask and hide in the untamed places of grace. I want to be lost in the call - swept up in the river. I want to forget myself to become small and powerless in a place of God's overwhelming love. I will continue to search every inch of grace until I find a place of truth. A place of rest. A place to hide and be known. I want to lay claim to it the way it has to me.
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