April began conference season at work and brought with it a lovely trip to Chattanooga with my sweetheart and his children for Spring Break. I have been surrounded by the stimulating sights and sounds of interstate travel, airports, large crowds, and excited children. I have spoken, discussed, shared and laughed.
And about two days ago, I realized that I’d been away from home for far too long. Away from that sacred place my soul finds in sabbath and silence. Away from the quiet that shelters my mind-body-spirit.
I really needed to find a place to pause and center myself before the next round of life began.
Yesterday, we celebrated my love’s birthday by traveling south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to a hike well loved by many–Black Balsam Knob in Pisgah National Forest. He was adamant that I bring my boots and extra clothing–I knew it would be chilly given the recent cold snap, but secretly, I thought his inner Eagle Scout was on overdrive. I threw a few extra winter items in a bag, grabbed the hot tea, and we were ready for our day apart from the busy-ness of life.
Rain followed us the first few miles, but as we approached the Mt. Pisgah area, it began. Large wet snowflakes dumping out of the sky. For two people who love snow and were still grieving the loss of a January-February snowstorm, we were thrilled! What a lovely gift for two snow-happy people on such a special day.
(I need to pause a moment and give my sweetheart some props–his inner weather geek and Eagle Scout sure did do a great job of surprising me with AND preparing me for snow in April!)
Both of us agree that one of our favorite aspects of winter is the kind of quiet that its weather brings. If you have never had the opportunity to stand outside while it’s snowing, it is a different kind of silence that surrounds your soul. You don’t just experience it–you literally hear it in your ears as it nudges all the noise and distractions out of your head. It is deep. It is calming. It is life giving.
As we hiked among giant evergreens, we intentionally took time to stop and stand still. No crunching of feet on the slushy trail. No sharing of stories or conversations. No jingling of the dog collar and leash.
Only silence. Silence that centered our spirits and reminded us how to come home.
Hiking down the trail, we paused–photographing, observing, and listening. The quiet penetrated our ears and hearts, and by the time we reached the car, all seemed right with the world.
On our way back to Asheville, we drove down winding roads and through rural countryside, leaving our snowy retreat behind. But we were different. In that sacred winter space, our spirits had come home.