Friday, September 19, 2008

Returning to My "Shack"

Well, the day has arrived. The day I return to Montgomery Bell State Park - to the chapel - to my "shack". My wish for the sun on my shoulders and the breeze on my face has been granted. It is a beautiful, cloudless day, with just a hint of autumn in the air.

I start my Wednesday morning as I usually do: with a Mothers' prayer group - our focus, the students, teachers, and administration of the elementary and middle schools our children attend. We have a long list to pray for today. With the last "Amen", my focus changes. It's time to go... really time to go.

My backpack is packed - ipod, camera, journal, a couple of bottles of water. In the car already are my bible, study book and hiking boots. And a box of Kleenex, can't forget the Kleenex! In my pocket are a couple of dollars and some rings that say "Courage", "Strength", "Wisdom". Figure I could use all of those today.

I hug my prayer partners. They wish me well, and I head to my bedroom to grab my backpack and slip on my flip-flops. As I turn to leave, my computer "bleeps". Incoming email. Compulsive reader that I am, I turn, wiggle the mouse to remove the screen saver, and see into which folder this email has landed. "Inbox". It is from my new friend - that I've never met - "I'll be thinking of you all day", she says. I smile to myself and feel such gratitude for all the people who support me - in my daily life and in this endeavor.

In the car - my clean, clean car - I place my ipod onto the external speaker system and press play. The music starts and I fasten my seat belt. My ipod contains all the worship music I have interpreted in the past few months. 56 song, 4 hours of playing time. That ought to be enough. A deep breath, and I'm on my way.

I've decided to plan my route so I pass the "womb house". It's essentially on the way, and it will allow me to meander the winding country roads between here and the park, rather than taking the interstate. Any chance I get, I'll take the winding country roads!

I drive along, the song changes. I laugh out loud. Yes, I brought my contact lens case, but I did not bring my glasses. I didn't expect to need them... already!! The words to "Amazing Grace" come out of the speakers, and the tears stream down my face. Ah... another set of contact lenses ruined to tear proteins.

Onto Chapmansboro Road, I turn. Ahead, on the right is the "womb house". I slow down. If I'm going too fast I'll miss it. As it is, without pulling all the way into the driveway, all I will be able to glimpse is the point of the roof and the attic windows. There it is. New mailbox, but the same marker in the ground, which reads "Clement". Apparently three other sets of homeowners also failed to remove the name of the original owner.

On the left is the trail head: "Sycamore Creek" it reads. Day after day, I walked there. Has it really been fifteen years? I do the math in my head. Yes. Fifteen years since I purchased that house and the land. Fifteen years since I was met on that trail. Fifteen years since I've reconnected with God. It was definitely in its infancy then, but it was there on the trail we met.

I pass the motel at the end of my (old) road, and bypass "downtown" via a street that didn't exist then. Now, I'm hoping and trusting my memory will serve me as I continue down the winding country roads to the park. Just in case, I flip on the GPS.

I'm thirty minutes into the hour drive. The songs have change numerous times, and I have been singing nearly the whole way. Occasionally, I must stop when I'm too choked up to continue. But, when I do, the visions of the signs continue in my head. I know these songs. Many of them have touched me deeply from week to week. Many of them have made lasting impressions on my heart.

Finally, the green of the park is visible on the GPS. "YES!" I'm nearly there. The final turn onto highway 70. A few miles more, I'm in the park. Past the welcome center and up the hill, around the campground and down the road marked "Historic Church", I go.

There it is. My car is the only one in the parking lot. "YES!" I was hoping not to have an audience for this adventure! I pull into the parking space, remove my ipod from the speaker, clip it onto my beltloop and look out the passenger window. Another car has pulled in beside me. "Can You help me here?" I say aloud as I glance upward.

I head to the restroom, as the woman in the other car walks down the trail - right past the church. "Thank you, God!"

Through the lens of my camera, I can remain detached. I see the beauty of the stone and the stained glass. When I was here last, the dogwoods were in bloom, as were the redbuds. It was spring. April, 1999. I pass through the iron gate, and walk up the road toward the church. A few more pictures. A few more moments of being detached.

I walk up the path toward the entry. There is a notice of reservation: The church is being used for a wedding - tomorrow. I slide off my flip-flops, set them to the side in the alcove. Reaching out to the door, it opens easily. I step inside....


kristin said...

I'm already looking forward to tomorrow!

Pam said...

wow... your gift of writing is incredible...