Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Day Before Hang Gliding

Well, I know you’ve all been waiting on the edges of your computer desk chairs to finally read about my in-the-air hang gliding adventure. (Remember, the part that I had written my heart out about, that got lost when I transferred to BloggerBeta?)

I hope tomorrow to have a good chunk of time to sit and re-reflect on that experience and write in a way that will do it justice.

So right now I thought it might help to share a bit of the journey I took en route to Lookout Mountain Flight Park. To prime my own pump, and perhaps to whet your whistle. (Messy metaphorical sentence, but at least they both have to do with water.)

I drove from Searcy to Memphis that day, went to church, and then drove from Memphis to Sewanee, a lovely mountaintop town in East Tennessee. It’s the home of the University of the South, where a friend of mine finished seminary recently.

This dear friend, when I told him I needed a place to stay in the area, told me about St. Mary’s convent having a guesthouse. “Tell them I sent you” was enough to convince me that I’d probably be welcome. And I was. I called a couple of days ahead of my trip, and they had a bed waiting for me.

I had been to the convent a few years ago, but that was in the daytime, and we walked from the retreat center where we were staying.

This time I got there after dark. I was a little nervous, making turn after turn when I could barely see the road, let alone the signs I’d been told to look for.

But I found it, without any wrong turns. Sister Elizabeth and a big dog named Sara greeted me, and after a quick supper and a walk in the moonlight, I spent a peaceful night.

The next morning I had time for another walk. As winter sets in, take a moment to enjoy these pictures of beautiful fall in the mountains.
This was my home for about eighteen hours! (My room was on the right side.)

The convent is built on the very edge of the mountain. Sorry for the bad lighting, but you can see through the windows and imagine looking from the inside out over a huge beautiful valley.

Autumn is the loveliest, is it not?

This tree branch amazed me. It grew sideways and curved back down to the ground.

If anyone has an explanation for how/why a tree would grow like that, I'd love to hear it. It looks like it is dancing to its own music, doesn't it? Or maybe it was afraid of heights?

And so, after a lovely walk, I got back in the car and after a quick call to the friend who had made the overnight stay possible, drove to Lookout Mountain. By that time, I have to admit, I was wondering if I ought to write a just-in-case goodbye letter to leave somewhere.

You know. Just in case.

And tomorrow I'll see if I can describe the actual flight for you.


jnmthw said...

What a beautiful place! I remember us talking about it on our autumn walk in Searcy the day before:) I am so glad you got to spend time there. I am interested in why a tree would grow like that too!
Just-in-case letter...if we really do manage to go to Switzerland this summer as well (just dreaming aloud here) and if by some great happening we manage to come up with $ enough for both of us to do hangliding...I think I'll think about a 'just in case' letter too! LOL! Miriam

Lawrence Underwood said...

Beauty is such and amazing gift. Isn't it amazing how a gnarled deformed limb on a tree can be an object of beauty. It reminds me of how the wonderful grace of God can transform our gnarled deformed lives in to beautiful reflections of his goodness.

That limb reminds me of trees one will occasionally see around here. Tress with limbs that are blown down from severe storms yet do not break off. Over time they heal and become almost secondary trees attached to the trunks of the original.

Sheila said...

I love what you said about the tree, Lawrence. I hadn't even thought about it as "deformed," but it certainly is not the usual form for a tree....and God is indeed so good at transformation. And healing after the storms.

(Of course, I still like the idea that the tree is just dancing, doing it for fun...)

Lawrence Underwood said...

Wow, I need some rest today. Look at all those typos!

Carolinagirl said...

I really enjoyed the fall pictures you posted. The scenery here, while beautiful for the Hudson Valley, is also in a state of dull drum. Fall has gone, but winter hasn't really arrived. Usually, by the time all the colors have faded, there's white fluffy stuff on the ground to cover the plainess. We haven't had any snow yet.