The Hope of Renewal is Found in the Peace of Nature

Winter in Southern West Virginia

Winter isn’t my season. Hope reigns though. Soon, the forests of the Appalachian Mountains will refresh my spirit as they have from my first memories.

The first hike of Spring in the woods resurrects my mind from hibernation. Indeed, as winter gives way to spring – which it will soon do – the signs of new and redeemed life are all around – underfoot, in rockwall crevices, and in the blue sky above.

Cold Creek in the Pisgah Forest of Western North Carolina

There is nothing quite like hiking quietly along a familiar forest path, or taking the one never traveled; hearing the wind whistling through the leaves and limbs as the old and young trees alike creak in the breeze; seeing the deer and marvel at its agility and curiosity; having your bones ache from having been bent over the soil all day, picking or planting; hearing the screech of a White-tailed hawk as it circles overhead.

Sandstone Falls on the New River in Southern West Virginia. Photo credit: Debbie Smith

One may be overwhelmed by the appearance of an American Bald Eagle – suddenly and seemingly from 12 o’clock high in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, or while enjoying morning coffee in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee at sunrise, as one noisily swoops into the limb of a pine tree nearby, using it to scout the lake below for breakfast; walking along a brook during a spring rain as the first green buds hint of a rich, embracing canopy in the “Season of the Dark Greens”  – May; sitting on a rock or stump for a breather while hiking and taking in sites – tiny and panoramic – that few have ever enjoyed; and, sitting on a sloped rock alongside a mountain creek and marvel at the mysteries of the canyon it has carved from the 6,000 foot peak above as it makes its way to the ocean, 300 miles away. 

Wilson Creek in Caldwell County North Carolina on its descent from Grandfather Mountain to the Atlantic Ocean

This is Nature, and it is real. So much else, from theological constructs to construction of giant skyscrapers, is not. So, I hope that you will consider taking a hike. Whether you enjoy nature alone or with a dear friend, if enough of us do it, perhaps we’ll come to recognize that it is up to us to convince leaders around the world to choose peace, not destruction. It is not only a beautiful world. It’s our only one.

One can hope. I do.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2023.

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