There’s nothing like piling my family of four into a small cramped rental car and hitting the road for fourteen straight hours to reach a place of peace and relaxation.
Before we left I was somewhat dreading the experience; I just knew there would be at least one body to bury before we got back to the Serf Ranch. Amazingly enough, everyone survived.
We set out from Central Florida to a secret hideaway in the Kentucky mountains, Lake Barkley. Truly it is a wonderful place to get some much needed rest and relaxation.
Preparing my new wife and her kids for the trip was interesting in itself. There were a lot of questions they asked on the way. But as we got closer and closer to our destination, the simple answer that we were headed to the middle of nowhere became a stark reality.
I can’t step out the front door of my home without seeing a half dozen people and as soon as I pull out of our development into traffic, well, there’s a whole lot of traffic. As we made our way through Atlanta, another incredibly busy city, we eventually hit the mountains of northern Georgia. The scenery changed dramatically from concrete and cars to mountains, lakes and trees. It became more and more refreshing with every mile we rolled.
Traffic through the mountains up to Nashville, Tennessee, was almost unbearable. The roads really don’t support the amount of cars using them. Nashville was a scary ride as we changed lanes back and forth trying to follow our route north around the city. Not long after that, the volume of cars dropped off dramatically. That was the first relief on the trip.
Once we crossed over into Kentucky it was simply amazing to see all the wide open spaces; farmlands as far as the eye could see. Summer time is great there because we got to see miles of corn, beans and a little tobacco; no cotton though.
Probably the thing that was most striking to the family, other than the total lack of people and traffic jams was the culture. It’s hard to imagine what people do there since the closest neighbors are generally a mile apart in any direction. It would appear that being a farmer or a tractor mechanic was about the only way to make a living. Either that or being a preacher; I imagined there was one church for every farm house we saw on the way.
We spent five days mostly boating and relaxing around a secluded resort. The people there were almost all my relatives, and those that weren’t, well, they kinda seemed to be.
Everywhere you go people wave and say hi even if they don’t know you. They take time to talk to you like they have nothing better to do. The waiters and waitresses we met almost all pulled up a chair and opened a conversation with us and more surprisingly, they prayed with us.
It is our custom as a family to pray over every meal. We join hands and give thanks for our meal, for friends and family. We thank God for the blessings we have to enjoy time in such a remote, beautiful place and for the bounty in our lives to be able to afford the trip, the food and all the indulgences. Twice we had servers join our prayer circle and it seemed so natural to them; so warming to us.
Okay, so you started reading this post eager to hear how we did have to kill one of the kids on the way and came home all looking forward to going to our own corners and avoiding any new arguments. But that didn’t happen. What did happen is that we found a renewed spirit and a new zest for life. We found that we actually could survive using one bathroom, sleeping in the same room and eating every meal together.
There were some tough moments and it took a bit of patience and self control at times to live and let live. But in the end, it was a great reward to share time together and be in a place where we could hear our own thoughts.
Overall, it was a time of reflection for me. It was a time to gather my hopes and dreams once again and refocus myself on some simple facts.
While my father would likely tell me (again) that I need to get my life together, I realized that my life is very much together. That, and that just because I’ve reached an age where a lot of people are looking to retire, I know for me, retirement is about setting out on the mission God has placed before me; to enjoy life and do a job I love, trusting Him for success and prosperity and all the while finding strength and faith in Him to meet our needs every day.
Sadly enough, as much as I wanted to stay in that summer paradise around the lake (winters there are very VERY cold), we came back to the concrete jungle. But something inside of me changed. It isn’t as though I didn’t expect it to change. I was after all eager to show my wife where my roots were and to embrace that peaceful place once again. But I hadn’t expected it to be so much joy and so much reward. I really expected nothing more than a temporary escape.
So today I pen this entry knowing that there is a beautiful and peaceful place that lives right inside of me, in my heart and in my home. Yes, I would have liked to have stayed there to do my writing, enjoy more of the smiles and hospitality of the people and their culture. I went there to find peace, and it seems peace found me.