There are some days, when the mountain has a mind of its own. Today was one of those days. The air felt as ancient as the granite stones that line one’s trail when ascending Grandfather. Alone, it is remarkable enough, but when you ponder the people that have claimed it as their own, it rings of an even older time. Those early settlers from Ireland, Scotland, and other Norseman-type countries, brought with them a heartiness of spirit and a willingness to survive in the harshest of climates with the most meager of supplies. Many have escaped for survival needs. The great potato famines made many leave their homeland, seeking a place where there could be hope, a promise of a better tomorrow. But, along with them, they brought a culture and a faith as old as the rocks that built their chimneys and lined their hearths. It was this permanence of spirit that flowed forth from the shrouded peaks this morning.
With each breath of life, there is a yearning to seek God in everything – nearly to the point of being obtuse. But through that seemingly endless search, there is a compulsion to love unlike before. When the instinctual sense to judge someone arises, that misguided thought is quickly usurped by an urgency to love them for who they are and not place their exterior before who they really are beneath the façade that is there for the world to see. Who hasn’t looked in the mirror and wondered who was looking back – was it the person we want to see, or are we stuck with something we’d rather not accept? The more we find ourselves immersed in Christ, the less the person in the mirror matters, other than being as clean and approachable in how someone might perceive us so that we don’t deter the opportunity to witness simply based on our outward appearance.
For this reason, we should only care about what we look like; otherwise, we are making an idol of our image, a sin as detrimental as any. In that regard, being aware of the fault of the addiction to personal beauty, one might find it more difficult to look upon that woman at church who cakes on the makeup, who spends hours on her hair and adorning jewelry as we might the homeless beggar that is covered in sores and lesions from lack of proper sanitation and personal hygiene. One has chosen to go beyond being approachable to the point that might as well have wallowed in the hog trough in the eyes of God for all the good they are doing. It is images like this that those who want excuses to avoid God use – the negative aspects of hypocrisy are sometimes more damaging to our ability to share the gospel than anything we could do purposefully to detract someone on our own accord. If we were to really think about the ancestral ties of these mountains, the rugged beauty of those women who crossed the ocean and then found a way to eke out an existence in these rugged mountains, we would find it heartening how they didn’t allow anything to detract from their worship. Their image mattered little when compared to how well they knew the Word of God.
Sitting at the jam in Blowing Rock this morning, it was with these thoughts that I watched many souls pass by. Although we were surrounded by tourists from all walks of life and backgrounds, we could still feel the ancient spirit with us. When our notes found a melody of an ancient song, it was then the world stood still – for a moment in time, notes in the air connected with the stones upon the earth, and they to those souls of days gone by, until all were one. As the shrills of fiddle strains wafted through the marketplace, spirits united in refrains as old as the hills. Suddenly, they wore kilts and woven tapestries from looms as their tam-shays tilted in the breeze. It was something to behold as the sun tried to escape the bondage of the mirth beneath the clouds.
It was in this manner that my day began. From an ancient time to the present, we are most when we are one with Him. Blessings abound in a dark world if only we take the time to notice.
Allow yourself to be approachable, but don’t go beyond that point and turn it into an obsession. There are far greater things to be concerned about within this world. The days are short as the end times approach. Make the most of every breath of life. May your day, your weekend, or even your week find nuances that bring out the best instead of the worse in all that you do and see, and in this, we can always say, “Thanks be to God.”