Not this time.
Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains is a place of memories and grandeur for me. Early in the morning you can ride or walk around an 11-mile loop without fighting the long snake of traffic after the gates open.
On my bike, I shot past a group of stragglers with a bit of a chip. ”Slugs. Come on, pick it up.” Halfway around the cove, it dawned on me I was enjoying one of my favorite places about as much as my teenagers savor dessert.
I changed my pace and small things, like a weathered fence post against a cobalt sky, honey bees, and locust songs began to work on my imagination. One spider web gave me serious cause for pause. The sun’s glint painted it like a target, suspended between two pines, it’s dew drops hung like golden strings of pearls around invisible shoulders. Taking out my camera, it occurred to me how passersby might react since I was giving the universal sign for a bear. Sure enough, most people were disappointed. Some moments of wow are in the eye of the beholder.
…I was giving the universal sign for a bear.
However, I’m not one to judge. Recently a college friend dropped off his son at college, and I reacted in typical amazement about how time flies. It’s going the same pace as when I was young and the weekend would never come fast enough. It’s my pace which changed.
I’m no expert on joy, but it seems to me it’s like fruit growing only from a certain kind of soil–soil enriched by gratitude through fallow seasons which our performance pace neglects. Intentional moments of reflection don’t fit into the schedule of over achievers. Genesis describes how God knitted the universe together and then made time to reflect. The Creator took pleasure in His work: “Now that is good.” Perhaps our cup of joy stays empty because we speed past what life happens to be pouring out in the moment.
Driving away from Cades Cove, I noted the irony when, just a short way down the road, the guy fussing over a spider web was greeted head on by a bear.