This autumn day we have been on the road for four hours or so now and soon we will exit this death-defying roadway. The highway curves steeply down in a graceful arc. Beauty has stamped itself on our eyes this day; it has been a venture into splendor all along our way. Leaving the golden crowned rolling hills of Kentucky, aka Paradise, behind with a sigh slightly tinged with expectation we enter the land of Promise, Tennessee, and into another level and depth of jeweled-toned bio-degradable nature.
God is so gracious; He gives us a season of indescribable beauty before the withering and falling takes place. I could dwell on this thought for a while, but we are rolling on. We skirt the City of Nashville, a musical city with country in its heart. It is a city that holds memories of great shopping pleasures for me. A city of seven hills whose people move languidly on their feet, but at warp-speed on their wheels. My racing heart becomes calm as I see the silhouette of stacks of brick and mortar growing smaller in the reflection of our rear view mirror.
We drive on toward the edge of middle Tennessee. Crossing the meandering little river of Caney Fork, for the fifth time, we began the slow, sweeping approach in a gentle rise to the Cumberland Plateau. In a jarring shock to our senses the beauty of the “God breathed” landscape intensifies. In times past, in this eye~teasing high land we have met almost all the forces of nature, driving through blinding sheets of rain, blizzards, ice storms, monsoons, and I swear that once there was a tornado prowling around below us.
Today a late arriving sun is bathing the awesome view before us in glory. God has been lavish with His paint brush. After a hundred “Ooos” and “Ahs”, we reach a spot along our route that calls for much louder “OOOS” and “AHS”. The shoulder of the highway seems to drop off into nowhere and if we dare to lift our eyes we can capture in an instant, miles and miles of forest studded horizon far, far below. Thank goodness Don is a steady driver for the effect of this view causes me to have a sensation of vertigo as well as the feeling of being caught in a dizzying vortex and I fight the urge to veer towards a place where no road goes.
My breathlessness is under control, as we are nearing the end of this day filled with a cacophony of neon images that somehow work together as a whole. We have left the race on the interstate behind us, with the pushed back hills and fields and now we are up close and personal with red, orange, and purple that is reflected on the body of our van and in oil slicks and wet spots on the black top road. The hills are somewhat gentler, but only for a short while for soon they will become the offspring of the Smokey Mountains.
The trees surrounding us are now back-lit and seem to swagger in the wind shouting, “Look at us, too!” and we do. The hollow; we have reached the narrow span that dips far below the towering banks above us; suddenly we are in a dark green and gray world where monsters live. The stalwart trees and their once golden hue have been gobbled up by the monsters called Kudzu; however soon they will depart for a season leaving a desolate, foreboding path for passersby.
Out of the Hollow and up the hill and the promise Tennessee holds is near. We could have arrived by the much-traveled county roadway, but we needed a last shot of adventure. The scenery is once again in party mode and so are we.
This world holds much beauty and today we have experienced it abundantly, but there is a greater beauty and it enters the eyes, or even through the pores of your body, and it settles in your heart and thrills your soul, and in a couple of heart beats we will be right in the midst of that beauty, at journey’s end. The promise that Tennessee holds for us, and a blessing from God, will be fulfilled, beautiful ending of a beautiful day, when family gathers.
Psalm 127:3-5 Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! (NLT)