They call it mountain time. I call it otherworldly, surreal in some ways, slow and dripping like that Salvador Dali painting. Things, people, even deer, stand still on this mountain or move so slowly as to evade discernment. The Cumberland Plateau is just this place, slow, dripping with an ethos calling to a deeper sense, a sense escaping the endless cycle time demands.
A place like the Plateau cannot escape the “time away” cliché but is better described as a place away from time. A heart and soul are slowed here so one can hear God’s whisper. We can learn from such a place, valuing the spirit, without time demanding its due and arresting us.
The good book talks about “this light affliction” – life, time, existence as we experience it. We should not be so attached to time, not so arrested and mired in its shallows, but we are. Valuing time is a contradiction, like a speeding Prius, we want the illusion without the sacrifice. We dabble in trivialities duped into the idea we own time but we are all Patriots toward something – time, place, country, culture, tribe, triviality.
“This light affliction” reveals a never-ending cycle while the different players muddle in illusion-making. Who among us stops and considers, considers anything but the satiation of immediate desire? The good book tells us life offers more than the immediacy of our want but who engages more? Is the object of our heart, soul, mind and strength misplaced? Is a “natural” Christian like a speeding Prius?
The Christian life is neither time nor place or attachment to country, culture, tribe or triviality. The Christian life follows God away from these “light afflictions” and moves forward, always forward toward grace and forgiveness and love. I do not believe in the “natural” Christian, but I believe we rise toward heaven as we move away from our earthly attachments toward our Christian creed. I still strive to practice what the good book preaches.
Renewal beckons me away from attachments. So, I pray. Allow me, O Lord, to delight in thee, to die each day to thee and live in your presence and grace so this light affliction may not separate us.
I agree with G.K. Chesterton when referencing God as a child. He said, “But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon…. for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”
And if God will delight me with a recurring, rising sun, perhaps he will whisper in my ear when at last I love and forgive, and say to me, “Deck, do it again!”
My soul seeks to rise. Let me give to God his encore.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).