Summersville Lake is unique in West Virginia in that we have the only lighthouse in the state. Standing on private land the lighthouse overlooks both the lake and the Route 19. The lighthouse is recent addition but when I was a kid there was a beacon light from the local airport. In stormy weather we would see the flash from the airport and think that there was a lighthouse that only lit up in storms. We couldn’t see the actual tower. Just the beam reflected off of the clouds into the window of our bedroom. It would light up the bedroom as we slept and we knew that somewhere out there it wasn’t so dark.
It’s good to have a guiding light when times are dark and dreary. We need a fixed point to center ourselves and a light to sweep away the darkness no matter if you’re on dark foggy water, traveling on a four lane highway or snuggled up under the covers on a stormy night.
I don’t pretend to know how many miles of roads there are in the world. I’m pretty sure that it’s a lot. Highways and byways, dirt roads are jeep trails stretch out like an intricate web across the globe. Some roads are major interstate highways and others can only be traveled by foot. And oh the places where they can take you! There are large metropolitan cities with amazing architecture. Glass and steel and concrete comes together in an artful pentacle that pierces the heavens! I’ve been on roads that go under the mountains and even under the very sea itself! I pass by roads every day and wonder where they end or, even if they do end at all. But no matter how far you travel or what wonders your eyes drink in there’s one road that’s the most welcomed of all of them. This one road will take you to a place where you are the most content. It’s a special road that ends in a different place for each of us. In case you haven’t guessed, it’s the road that brings you home. No matter how rocky or how many twists and turns and no matter how high the hills that you have to climb are the road home will be the one most eagerly traveled. An old Irish blessing goes…
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the rains fall softly on your fields.
And, until we meet again may God hold you gently in the palm of his hand.
Tonight’s blog post is dedicated to my fellow West Virginians who are living out of state and being evacuated from the path of Hurricane Florence .
Tonight’s image is the railyard at Cheylan West Virginia. If you look closely at the background you can see one of our coal tipples. The coal comes down the river in huge barges and is offloaded to the tipple where it’s moved by conveyor belt into the train. It’s some of the most dangerous work in the mining industry. My whole life I’ve heard stories about workers stepping between two rail cars at the wrong moment. The large piles of coal have been known to collapse and bury men alive. I know that coal energy is controversial in the world today but it is our main energy source in a large portion of the world. Here in West Virginia coal lights our homes, cooks our meals and powers our internet connection. It even powers our electric vehicles. Through the paychecks paid to the miners coal feeds families whose members have never set foot in a mine. (Every mining job supports between 3 and 5 others. ) It all centers on hubs like you see here and the workers who risk it all to pull light out of darkness.
Tonight’s image is a set of train tracks from late last summer. As I write this post a thunderstorm is raging through the mountains. My little buddy Scout has pointed out the clause in his contract that requires he be comforted during any all thunderstorms. ( In return he keeps the ninjas out from under the beds in the house 😉 ). This set of tracks is one of the ones that always indicated my sense of adventure. I’ve never seen what it is that is around the corner. For now, Scout and I will look at picture and distract ourselves from the thunder. I hope you enjoy the image as well.
The ancient Chinese told how dragons might be responsible for storms. The Aztecs had Quetzalcoatl. But the old timers in the eastern part of West Virginia told stories about the Snallygastor. A dragon in the New World. Even though the feature image shows a dragon-like impression in the texture of the clouds I’m not quite ready to lay responsibility of a storm on the existence of a “fearsome critter”. But it does seem to fuel the imagination. I can imagine a grandfather type character looking out from the shelter with children on his knee telling them all about the dragons as the storms pass. The story always has a happy ending and the children become so enthralled by the tale that they forget about the fear of thunder and lightning outside.
Life is all about balance. Mountains don’t exist without valleys. The Earth is never without a sky. Rivers dry up without clouds. Without gravity centripetal force would sling us into outer space. Why then should the ebb and flow of life not include the same pattern? At first, it might seem like a nice thought to always have things go our way. But soon the lack of a challenge to overcome would leave us without the joy of overcoming. In short, we wouldn’t grow and become physically, emotionally and intellectually weak. It’s a lot of work to go from the river in the valley to the mountaintop but when you stand on that rocky ledge overlooking the valley the view is enhanced by the thrill of winning the challenges. Of course you also have to pick your battles. The amazing view in tonight’s feature image was taken from a local bridge especially for you to enjoy while we ponder finding the balance together. Hopefully the lesson that we’ll learn is that if a storm, sunshine, mountains and valleys, Earth and sky can all exist in harmony together to create a fantastic view then perhaps all of the different ideas in today’s society can both maintain individuality and work in harmony to create a fantastic world.
Just a quick note to my regular readers. I’m sorry that there’s been no post over the past few days. My internet connection was knocked out by a tree that fell on the line and there’s no public access where I live. I hope to be back on track now that service has been fully restored.
It’s a common occurrence in the Appalachian Mountains. Thunder booms and the wind seems to bounce from one mountainside to the other. Every region thinks it’s storms are the worst but the truth is that the worst storm is the one that catches you by surprise. As mentioned above one such storm recently knocked out communication and electric services for my area which temporarily transported us to the nineteenth century. Okay, maybe not quite that bad. We brought the solar powered lawn lights inside after the sun set and watched movies that were loaded onto our mobile devices. I used a small battery pack to keep anything not capable of being charged in the sun at full power and made limited use of the charging system in our vehicles. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on point of view) I didn’t have drag the gas grill out of storage this time. But, we adapted to the conditions.
Storms are not always wind, rain and thunder though. Sometimes it’s more emotional or spiritual. Like the natural storms they can come up without warning and leave you alone in the dark. You might wonder how you’re going to get by. You might not have alternative lighting and such. But, let me tell you. God has built you to be stronger than you know and God’s got your back. He didn’t go to all the trouble of creating you as the special individual that you are just to leave you alone when you need him most. The storm will pass.