For me, going to the mountains has always felt like going home. My heart and my soul just work a little easier when my body is breathing in the fresh, mountain air. My mind eases it’s racing and my lungs exhale a little deeper.
I consider myself wholly blessed to have been able to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for four years of my young adult life. I attended Appalachian State University, just a stone’s throw away from the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain, in Boone, North Carolina. I’d gaze up to the tops of the surrounding mountain peaks as I walked to my classes and I’d sled down many a hill when the snow kept classes from being held.
Everything just seems to be a little clearer, easier even, when on mountain time.
A few weeks ago over Labor Day weekend, this special sense of relaxation found me just in time; amid a sea of assignment due dates and a million back to school tasks for my classroom. This choice was my own, to be both a teacher and a student, but the hustle and bustle of this season still takes me by surprise two years in. A year of pursuing a master’s degree in social media marketing followed by my choice to pursue a much better suited career as a child life specialist. Two years of wearing two hats at once. For most teachers, back to school season means long hours preparing for your new class but when you’ve got end of semester papers out the wazoo it all gets overwhelming very quickly. I become chained to my laptop and burdened by the hands on the clock that still have not found a way to slow down to let me get more done. I worked on my eight page paper right up to the hour before we hopped in the car to leave, hitting submit with a sigh of relief so that I could go and throw some clothes in a bag. As we inched closer to our destination, I mentally prepared myself to disconnect. The second we turn off of Interstate 77, our cell signal and access to the outside world disappears. And on this particular day, my entire being exhaled.
I try not to be the kind of person that is attached to her phone like an extra limb, but all too often that is me to a T. Between emails from my principal, social media notifications for my blog, and checking out people’s lives on Snapchat, I am bound to my phone. But as we entered the beautiful land of no (usable) technology, I rejoiced. Two weeks into the new school year and I was already feeling burnt out. I was already stressing and worrying about the students that I had been given for the year. I was already worrying about the impact I may or may not have on these kids. Something told me that I needed to unplug and disconnect before the year truly got underway.
I’m used to the city life, even though I grew up just outside of Charlotte. My town is close enough to Charlotte that I can understand city life, but small enough that I feel like I’m living in a slightly redneck Stars Hollow (I’ll take any excuse to live like I’m a Gilmore Girl).
I might be used to the hustle and vibrancy of city life, but my soul yearns for the mountain stillness. There’s a peace and tie to this earth that God created that I just can’t feel if I’m standing on a beach somewhere. Standing on the edge of some of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s many scenic overlooks, gazing out over the rolling mountains and tiny homes and farms below, it’s easy to feel tiny and insignificant. But the God of the universe who made these mountains and who made these trees, also made you and I. Sometimes, when I’m standing in the midst of the natural beauty of this world, I think of the incredible truth that despite having created the oceans and the mountain ranges and all of the amazing creatures on this Earth, God still thought this world needed me in it. Little ole me. It truly takes my breath away.
It’s in this stillness, as I hear the water rushing through the creek and the crickets chirping, that I am able to hear God a little clearer. And he’s telling me to be still and abide with Him.
But being still in this current season of life seems rather impossible, I must admit. I’ve got assignments to do, lesson plans to write, and a book that I’m slowly chiseling away at. I long to do everything on my to-do list and still make time to experience every adventure. I worry that I can’t be still for too long because I’ve got dreams to fulfill, words to write, and callings to live out. But in this stillness, He reminds me that I can do all of these things in time. That if I begin each day, each task on my to-do list, with a heart rooted in Him and in His truth, everything will work out just fine and fall into place.