Hughes Bridge & Some Thoughts About Being On The Wrong Road

The lake at winter pool seems like a world long forgotten. The water birds leisurely take the place where boats once sped by pulling tubes full of laughing kids. The only sounds are that of lapping water and the occasional Blue Jay in the trees along the canyon walls. If not for the bridge it would be easy to believe that this was a world reclaimed by nature. Behind me, McKees Creek looks like a Martian landscape except for the road and bridge that is under water the rest of the year.

Once I returned my gaze to the main body of water and the bridge that takes Route 19 from Summerville to Mt. Nebo I began to think about how bridges symbolize transition. Here I stand on one shore looking at the device that would get me to the other side. But from this perspective the bridge is unreachable. If for some reason I needed to get to Mt. Nebo I couldn’t get there from here. The road that I’m standing on disappears beneath the deep lake. I would actually need to backtrack a few miles in order to reach the right road. I would have to admit that I was in the wrong place before I could get to where I needed to be. I could deny my error and complain that they put the bridge in the wrong place or that there should be a ferry to help people who are on the wrong path but the bridge was placed where it needed to be and there is no ferry. A way was made for me to use and in order to use it I am the one who needs make the adjustment. I would have to correct my own errors and get on the right road. The longer I delayed resolution the worse it get.

Over the years it was hard for me to learn to quickly admit when I was wrong and thereby avoid complicated entanglements that made it even harder to fix. It’s still something that I have to “fine tune” at times but it has been one of the most empowering life skills that I’ve gained. It’s also the skill that has given me the opportunity for the most progress in multiple areas of my life.

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Time Uncluttered

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is accredited with saying that “Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished”. In our high maintenance society of modern day planet earth we seem to be constantly on the go. Our lives are constantly governed by the ticking of a clock. Or in my case the prompting of my Google assistant reminding me to check the laundry or change the furnace filter. My smartwatch is constantly buzzing in sync with my phone to remind of one minor task or another. All of this perfectly timed organization allows for us to keep all the balls in the air. But is there an important difference between a full life and a busy life? Lao Tzu’s observation leaves it open to imply that we might be missing something if we are constantly being hurried. Yes Google will help you keep on top of all the important things but only if you remember to set the reminder in the first place. Is it all just cyberneticly enhanced rushing?

I suppose that the answer is in making time for that sense of peace. Sometimes that means that the laundry in the dryer gets a little wrinkled. Sometimes it means that one of the balls that we’re juggling has to be tucked into a pocket for a little while as we enjoy the graceful spiral of a snail’s shell found on the edge of a trail that we really hadn’t planned on walking that day.

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The Long Night And Meaning Of The Lights On The Tree

Recently I made the comment that I was more excited about the 21st of December than I was for the 24th or 25th. The 21st of December is the longest night of year. And, when the dawn breaks on the 22nd the light returns to planet Earth. Most people are aware of the winter solstice and how the early church decided that it was just perfect for celebrating Jesus’s birthday.

Saint John 1:4-5

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Simply put, the lights on a Christmas tree represent Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

The Appalachian Winter is one where we can have snow or rain or both for Christmas but the darkness of December is a constant. The steep incline of our hills and low angle of the sun makes the normally long night even longer. The darkness like sin seems to suffocate you. It brings a coldness that seeps into very core of your being. But just when you think it’s going to be dark forever the light breaks over a distant ridge and the cold night begins to retreat. The light returns and with it comes new life.

As I’ve studied the deeper meanings behind our Christmas decorations I’ve come to understand that the Christmas Tree itself is a microcosm of the Jesus experience. We can decorate the tree with all kinds of trinkets and bobbles and assign different meanings to them and make it a beautiful and artistic expression of our Christian faith but it’s when the lights are turned on that it comes to life and brings us joy.

So, that’s the meaning behind the Christmas lights. It’s the expression of new life coming into world and the exit of the long dark night.

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The Power Of Flight

The power of flight has been part of mankind’s fascination throughout all of human history. I remember when I was very young that I would spend hours seated in the floor leafing through books about airplanes and flight in general. I was always especially drawn to the more exotic aircraft. DaVinci’s ornithopter was a particular favorite. I would study his drawings and try to memorize every line and curve of the craft. I tried to imagine how the pivot points would fit together and how the steering would function. I studied the works of those who came later and added hot air balloons and Zeppelin technology to the basic designs. Later I would Chuck Yeager’s biography about breaking the sound barrier for the first time. And there’s also the interview with a man who built an ultralight flyer that fit in a suitcase and escaped from East Berlin in it.

Today there’s the real possibility of the car in my driveway being replaced by a drone powerful enough to take me almost anywhere. (Nevermind that the Hiller Flying Platform and the Williams Wasp differed a similar technology decades ago) I’ve often commented to my wife that is such a shame that the best angles for certain photos were a hundred feet in air over the river. But the possibility of climbing aboard a quad-copter and shooting from the window is only a few steps away!

No matter what the future of flight holds in technology it will always bring romantic notions going where you want to when you want to. There will also be a crazy idea that with just a little tweaking will inspire the next generation of would be pilots who dream of having their very own wings.

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A Moment Of Stillness

I stand on the bank of the Kanawha River at Glen Ferris and look back across the water towards Gauley Bridge. The liquid mirror formed by the angle of the sun draws me deeper into the scene. The texture of the bare trees meets the mirror surface of the rivers at the bridge. I stand here and soak in the peace until it saturates my spirit. I long for the moments of tranquility. The day’s chaos and stress melts away and sinks into the depths of waters. The echoes of all the daily demands of modern life seem to be lost in the forests and mountains. As they fall silent in the distance only one voice remains. It’s that still small voice that speaks peace. The voice that’s never wrong. It’s the voice of God.

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The Rise, Fall And Rebirth Of A Giant.

For centuries the giant stood on the banks of the beautiful Kanawha River at Glen Ferris and watched over the villages that sprouted up along the water. It laughed silently along with the children who played beneath it’s branches. It glowed along with the young lovers that swooned and stole kisses in the park. It kept the secrets that were whispered in it’s presence. It held the hearts that were engraved in it’s bark. The giant old tree loved the presence of the people so much that it grew a bench from it’s roots in hopes that the villagers would come and share the stories of lands beyond the mountain tops. But all things must change eventually. One day the skies grew angry and poured their rage into the river and even a giant couldn’t withstand the torrent. The giant fell with a thunderous crash. And yet, when we look closely at the stump we can see hope rising again. A single twig still continues to stretch out towards the sun. And love lives again. It’s said that strong roots gives us the strength to survive but it takes more than strong roots to rise again. It takes determination and love.

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Solitude And Focus

There are times when a person just needs a little solitude. When the world around you is full of flashing signs and blaring music and distractions of every kind. We all have those moments when the mental clutter just needs to be pushed back and space needs to be given for focusing on one thing at a time. We need to just let our minds drift for a little while like a bird on the lake. He’s not trapped in the water. He can leave at time of his choosing. He can paddle around and go to any part of the water or land that he wants. He’s not overtaken by winds or currents but instead he rides them. He works in harmony with creation and achieves what is needed. And he rests when it’s time. He is at peace with his environment as God intended. Solitude isn’t really about being antisocial or introverted. It’s about focus. It’s intended to be a limited time for mental and emotional recharge. We exercise our bodies to grow stronger and have more endurance but any successful athletes will tell you that it’s during the resting cycle that the strength manifests. Our minds and spirits are the same way. We need a resting state to fully benefit from the stimulation we experience in daily life.

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Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Quiet Contemplation” and is available for purchase by using the Contact Form on my website. (Note, I do not share or sale contact information.EVER)

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