The first cool breeze of Fall is one of my favorite experiences. From my patio I hear the wind rushing through the trees behind my left shoulder. I breathe deeply, and the cooler air fills my lungs. The humid, stifling heat has subsided, and my favorite season is among us.
I went to Asheville, North Carolina a couple weeks ago. We stayed in a cabin outside of the city. The photos on the booking page even made me a little suspicious because of how picturesque they were, but it lived up to every expectation and more.
The last morning we were there I woke up early to see the sunrise. At 6:50am it was fifty-six degrees outside, just cold enough for my light jacket to feel perfect. I could still smell the smoke from our bonfire the night before on my clothes, which made the morning hike all the better.
When I arrived at the highest point on the property I couldn't believe what I saw. The picture you see at the top of the page was taken that moment. I stood in awe as the day was awakening. I looked around and noticed a small deer over my left shoulder, unbothered by my presence, facing the mountains, as if to watch the sunrise with me.
Though I certainly didn't want technology to taint this beautiful moment, I pulled out my phone and turned on a song that's been replaying over and over in my head since I first heard it:
"I'm running to the secret place
Where You are, where You are
I sing to You of all the ways
You stole my heart, stole my heart
Better is a moment that I spend with You
Than a million other days away
I'm running, I'm running
I'm running to the secret place"
I breathed deeply and felt peace. I was reminded of all the "running" I do to earn and achieve and felt the pressure and discontentment subside, a feeling not unlike the cool fall air replacing the stifling summer heat. The insatiable need to be somebody and do something suddenly felt like a silly memory from a different life. And the mountains and the wind whispered a divine, "Be still and know."
A blindspot I'm continuing to uncover is the need to practice regular retreat, to intentionally carve out pockets of "running to the secret place," where a brief moment in the presence of God is more life-giving than a million other days elsewhere.
I can't always go to the mountains (though my goal is to make that possible), but I do have a fire pit in my backyard, trails across the street, a patio perfect for cool evenings on the swing, and a nearby bluff that provides stadium seating to the sunset showing every evening. You'll find me there more often, because I don't want to keep missing those divine whispers that remind me why I'm alive.