You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence. Acts 2:28 (NIV)
With several options for getting to the mountains of northwest Alabama, I spent lots of time studying the roadmap. I love maps. I love looking at all the names of places and seeing the double red lines signifying four lane highways and the grey dots identifying narrow or gravel roads. I dream of where they all lead and look forward to discovering something new. But, husband and I have differing views of travel. He’s a “get there the straightest, fastest and most efficient route” kind of guy. No tooling around in little out of the way places, no stopping every hour to check out souvenir stands or road side attractions. I on the other hand, am learning to enjoy the journey. With my husband’s lead foot on the gas pedal, my head snaps around as I see possibilities blur past and stammer, “Look there!” even as he says with a grin, “Oops, too late. You should have warned me to stop.” So, we have compromised over the years. We will do our dawdling once we reach our destination. Unless, I scope out potential lunch breaks in advance and can sneak a visit to a historic downtown into our route. I get a kick out of seeing small downtowns consisting of lots of historic buildings successful and thriving. It is proof of what I preach in my job. And it just so happened that one of the routes provided to us took us right through Rome, Georgia around lunch time. There is always a chance that a historic district will disappoint. Sometimes, historic means dead. I prefer the life. As we entered the city, I promised husband that if we could not find anything downtown, we would return to the outskirts of the community where the big box stores and franchises were located. Prepared to be disappointed, I was surprised to enter a six block area of two and three story brick building dating back to the nineteenth century filled with interesting shops and restaurants. Not only that, there were so many people, on a Saturday afternoon that every parking place on the street was taken! We circled several times before spotting a car backing out of its space right in front of a cute restaurant called the Blue Moon Cafe. Perfect! I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich with a twist, thin slices of granny smith apples mixed with the cheese between two pieces of oatmeal bread. Delicious. Then, we went next door to the Honeymoon Bakery for enough sweets to last our entire vacation. After browsing in the shops and purchasing another children’s book from my childhood, walking along the riverfront and laughing at the children playing in the splash park, we left Rome, Georgia pleased to know that a downtown can preserve its heritage and be successful at the same time. There’s a lot of life even in the most boring road, if you keep your eyes peeled for it! And God’s still at work, even when you can’t see it!
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)
Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Psalm 46:8-10 (The Message)
What I learned on my summer vacation: You can’t multitask and hunt hummingbirds at the same time. My body is still on Eastern Standard Time, so I woke up at 6:45 Central Time and couldn’t go back to sleep. I left husband snoring in bed and went out on the porch with my laptop and camera still dressed in my pajamas. This is a really nice cabin, and the wireless internet extends to the porch so I could enjoy the early morning and catch up on my e-mails. I heard a whirring around the hummingbird feeder that distracted me from my reading and looked up just in time to see a hummingbird dash out of sight. I set my computer aside and pulled my camera out, attaching it to the tripod and aiming at the feeder. I figured when I heard the whir again, I’d turn from the computer and push the button capturing the image. Wrong! Not only was the hummingbird so fast that I couldn’t even reach over and catch him before he darted off, but the camera wasn’t focusing on the feeder, but the tree behind it. Surfing the Internet was out of the question if I really wanted to get the shot. It required that I sit still and concentrate on one thing. But, while waiting on the hummingbird’s return, I began noticing other things I hadn’t paid attention to with the lure of the Internet in front of me. I saw cardinals flitting among the trees and heard their call. There were other birds that I couldn’t identify combining with crickets to create a symphony that I might have missed with my face turned towards the computer. A squirrel peeked at me from behind a tree and chattered to another that I could not see. The sound of church bells drifted up from the valley below joining the chorus. I saw trees dancing in the breeze, felt the wind on my face, and though, I could not hear it, smelled river water close by. With all my senses in play, I felt completely alive and at peace. Above it all, I heard the buzz of the hummingbird as I took shot after shot. I am not a bird photographer, but thanks to digital photography and the ability to shoot and delete if it doesn’t turn out well, I got a few good ones to share. But, the best images are the ones I couldn’t catch on film. The sounds and feeling of a peaceful morning just being still. As I focused on one thing, getting the picture of the hummingbird, it opened my mind to notice other things I might not have seen otherwise. That is what happens when we turn our entire attention to God. Not only do we find Him, but we see the world around us and His vision for us more clearly. Seeking God brings understanding as everything else comes into focus. Then, we find our purpose and peace.