I was a strange teenager. I remember having way too many reflective, contemplative moments for a 16 year old. Whenever I had a ‘life event” I would sit and wonder how long it would be before I might come back around to that specific place again. I’m always looking for those, “circle of life” type things…I know, kinda strange. Today I had one.
Twenty-eight years ago I was driving the back roads and byways between Collegedale, TN and Hendersonville, NC, where my father lives. I love going to way out of the way places to find interesting things to photograph. While navigating a very narrow stretch of road in the Blue Ridge mountains, a brief flash of a massive waterfall jumped out from the jungle foliage on the mountain side of the road. I slammed on brakes and slowly backed up to get a better look…it was awesome. I knew I had to take pictures of it all. The only problem, this was not a “public access” waterfall with a nice trail to follow. The only way to reach this massive wonder of nature was to blaze a trail down the side of the mountain, through the amazon-like forest to the base of the falls, a good 300 yards below. Not a problem. Dragging my not-nearly-as-enthusiastic college roommate along to carry equipment, we blazed our way down. I had so much fun it was crazy and I shot up about four rolls of film…remember, this was 28 years ago. Later, I chose the best two shots and had them enlarged to 20″X30″ framed posters. It was a great experience.
I found some of those pictures hiding in a shoebox not too long ago and thought how great it would be to visit that waterfall again and re-shoot it with digital technology. I recalled having attempted to find those falls again on two occasions and being unsuccessful both times. But now, with the age of the internet, I was able to locate the precise location. Visiting my parents here in Hendersonville over summer break, we decided to make the 90 minute drive into the mountains and connect the two ends of this life circle. I have to say it was a bit of a high for me.
We successfully found the falls and discovered that, aside from a recent re-paving of the narrow, winding road, everything else was pretty much the same. Miranda and Aspen stayed waited in the car, as this trek would be too dangerous for our five-year old. I got out my camera gear and contemplated the changes that had taken place over the past 28 years. Instead of a Canon A-1 film camera I boasted a Canon 60D DSLR! I also was sporting a 48 year old body in place of a 20 year old physique. I had anticipated that the good folks of the national forest wherein this water fell would by now have a gentle and well cleared trail. Seemingly they have gone with a leave-it-in-its-natural-state approach as there still was no trail and the route I used all those years ago would be the one to use again if I were to risk it. “Well, why not!” I thought. “After all, I am recently from Las Vegas, so…let it ride baby!” And with that thought I leapt over the “stupid person’s rail” (the one that keeps intelligent people safe and alive) and began retracing my steps from 28 years ago…if you are really interested in the results of the life circle, I’ll be posting some of the pictures on Facebook.
The real reason I told this story was because of the way it reminds me of how God has dealt with me over the years as well. I think there are innumerable circles God patiently brings me through again and again trying to teach me something. If I don’t get it the first time, He doesn’t give up on me. He waits, guides, gently directs my path to bring me around for another go at it. I’ll be honest with you, sometimes it takes three or four trips around to “get it”. But every time, I am amazed at the loving patience God must have for each of us to work these circles of life to teach us that there is nothing more important to Him than bringing us home.
“All lessons in life will be repeated until learned.” 12-step recovery proverb