“We shall not cease from
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
“For last year's words belong
to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.” -
I was nervous about driving out here again. This place is incredibly beautiful but there are bittersweet memories tied to it. Exactly one year earlier I had dropped my oldest boy off at the recruiters office to board a bus for a day of briefing. He would be officially sworn into the United States Air Force the following day and fly out to Texas for 8 weeks. Our family spent the day of briefing with friends off discovering new places in North Alabama. We showed him pictures of how we spent our day while he was being prepared to head out to basic training. He instantly stated "that's not fair, you guys go see places like this without me. When I get back home we are going back here."
Exactly one year later here we are and we brought Clayton with us. This year hasn't been an easy one. It is no secret that I find refreshment and comfort in nature. I also enjoy reading. Wild at Heart (written for guys but I loved it) is authored by John Eldredge who has written a few other books as well. Desire by Eldredge discusses a view of heaven and also quotes T.S. Eliot which meant I had to read T.S. Eliot's work in its entirety because I'm weird like that. The closing of "Little Gidding" is beautiful. Go read it...Eliot talks about waterfalls, rivers, and exploration but he eludes to something even greater. Perhaps a view of heaven.
Every time I have been to this waterfall I have had a heaviness in my heart for unspoken reasons. Every. Single. Time. Whether good or bad, we all bring our perspectives and our hearts with us when viewing some landscape. The scene speaks to each of us in different ways. As I looked out over this waterfall (after taking the vain 10 second auto-delay selfie shown lol), I thought of Eliot's words. At this point, I was only familiar with Eldredge's quote of the first four lines above. I wouldn't read the entire work until a few days ago. Isn't it true though, that something so familiar can feel totally new and different when circumstances change. I imagined what it would be like to gaze upon scenes such as these without an ache in my heart. When I hit the play back of my camera to view the vain selfie, I immediately noticed the leaves covering up the waterfall and another quote came to mind. This one by C.S. Lewis... “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
And then it hit...it's just not meant to be yet. The ache will always be there. Some days it's more intense than others, but this world is not our home. One day, we will be complete with our Lord. The longing for heaven is a good thing and there isn't a single thing on earth that can satisfy it. So for today, after the brief moments of reflection, I captured the scene the best I could and then enjoyed time with 4 of my precious kiddos. We made more memories in these beautiful surroundings and went home exhausted and happy with the stories, videos, and photos to show for it. I love these kids and their laughter. I love their sense of adventure and desires to explore. So thankful for places of refreshment like these. Thankful for the ability to capture and experience moments of beauty. Thankful for the hope that one day we truly get to "mingle with the splendours we see" "And
know the place for the first time".