Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Yesterday we set out as a family to have a little time away from the everyday hustle and bustle. Last year, Bob had read an article in our local newspaper about Jacks River Falls, a waterfall in the Cohutta Wilderness area of the Chatahootchee National Forest. It sounded like a cool place to go, but we decided to make the trek when the weather was optimal, i.e. when none of us would sweat very much.

It was a 2 hour drive to Cisco, which is a one-stoplight town north of Chatsworth, GA. Then it took 30 min. of traversing gravel roads that twisted and turned, spewed dust, and had us reading and rereading the internet directions we'd printed. Are you getting the picture that these falls are in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE? We were not finding the trailhead, but a providential meeting as we were about to leave provided us with a connection who showed us the way.

Once we arrived, it was a 4.5 mile walk to get to the falls. We set off around 11:30am and it was only 53 degrees. I was grateful for this reading on the rearview mirror, though, because it had been 35 degrees when we left Cumming at 8:30!

It was an easy stroll along the leaf covered trail, and The dogs were in HEAVEN with all the scents to investigate. During most of the 4 hours it took to walk in (and out again), we did so in companionable silence. The colors peaked this weekend, and our point and shoot pocket digital just couldn't really do justice to the varied colors we saw along the trail. I saw leaves that looked the color of bleached salmon, yellow leaves stippled with red and green, maroon leaves with burgundy edges, near black burgundy leaves, yellow and brown leaves, and lots of pine trees still looking perfectly healthy. The smell of pine and dying leaves wafted past as the wind provided a cooling breeze when the temperature topped out around 72. It was idyllic.

You will notice that this photo montage is devoid of pictures of the falls. That's because we couldn't find them. The trail was not well marked when it counted, and my husband recognized that turning back without finding what we came to see was more important than getting lost. It wasn't a wasted trip, though, even though we didn't reach our final destination. It was so good for all of us to just get away from everything that has been dominating our our worries and our responsibilities and--well, I'm sure you could fill in your own blank to finish this sentence.

Our pastor has been talking about worry the past 2 weeks, and he shared that taking time to observe how God takes care of the birds of the air and the grasses of the field (as He instructed His original audience to do in Matt. 6:24-34) should help us realize that He cares for US much more than these. Even with that knowledge, though, not worrying can be a challenge. Where I think we get tripped us is when we think it all depends on our effort. It does depend on our effort, but not entirely. Not easy stuff...

Something else that came to mind as I took in the beauty of the foliage is that this beauty is produced, purposely brought about, by a system that is going into hibernation, shutting down. I certainly don't look good AT ALL when I'm shutting down, "dying" from too much labor, too much striving.

Yet the trees and all nature were designed to help us understand Who God is, and the lesson I walked away with from yesterday's hike is that I can relax and trust that the week I have ahead--which is full to the brim with all kinds of good stuff that will run me ragged by the end--can go one of two ways. Either it will all go according to His plan for it or I can try to make it all happen how I deem it should go. That's only going to be limitedly successful, and ultimately more stressful. Still, He gives me the choice.

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