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These words have been swirling in my head for months now. Notes scribbled on envelopes, post-it notes. . . notes on my cell phone, in my dreams — simply everywhere. What is important to say at this time? What words soothe our hearts and souls?
What message cuts through all the noise? When I am troubled, I go quietly into the woods and soak in the beauty. I see color in all forms, from the tiny orange salamanders, to the white and purple tender wildflowers, to the rich dark soil that provides the base for the season of growth. On the path I see footprints of animals that sought their own refuge the night before. It has become my sanctuary since we were asked to shelter in place. No mask is needed here. Just eyes to see, a nose to smell the freshness, ears open to hear the birds calling out to one another, and a heart open to explore new views.
My trail ends at an opening to a majestic mountaintop. Some days it is shrouded with a dense fog, or the rain pelting down is so heavy I rush to head back home. Then there are days like today, when Grandfather Mountain greets me with her beauty back-dropped with clear blue skies. While what I see from day to day may be different, she is never changing. Strong and resilient through storms, always there as a sign of hope. I take a deep breath in hopes that the still and quiet beauty will be medicine for the day. I say my peace about the dilemmas facing us, express hope for the future, and then leave in prayer. I am certain that there is power in just that—seeking peace and hope in these troubled times.
Our team at CML has been working hard on this issue to provide what we hope will be part of the recovery. A guide for how to enjoy all that is our mountain area — strong, resilient, filled with beauty on the hiking trails, on the river, on the mountaintops, in the songs, in the art and on the stage. So much of our ‘normal’ summer season has been postponed, but there is still plenty to enjoy and explore.
This issue can be part of that exploration for you, too. The businesses highlighted within our pages are welcoming you back for a taste of their offerings; the venues that once offered full house arenas with theatre, dance, and music are offering virtual experiences to fill your own spaces. There is much to taste, see, hear, and experience.
My granddaughters and I practiced social distancing from March through May — probably the hardest activity during this crisis. The two-year-old would say, “no hug, no touch, social distance.” That comment broke my heart — but then I saw her own resilience. She would stand near me and start to dance as her way of hugging and loving me on that visit. She found her way to touch me through her creative dance. I will forever remember that scene and what she taught me. I was never so happy than when my family deemed it safe and necessary to hug physically. One day, when they are a little older, we will reflect back on how powerful this time has been. At five and two years of age, they understood that love cannot be shuttered. They get the simple fact that love is always available if we find our own way to express it.
My hope and prayer is that each of us remembers what is vital and important through all of this — to listen, to hear, to explore, to draw on our inner wisdom to love one another and see the color and beauty that is everlasting right around us.