All one has to do is face towards the Altar and gaze in awe of one of the most peaceful stained-glass windows that there is in the Episcopal Church, or almost any church for that matter. Ironically, there is no stained-glass to it at all. The glass is perfectly clear so that it does not cover up any of the splendor in the distance. There is a series of mountains that are extraordinarily adorned in any season of the calendar year: the vibrant, varying jade greens of summer; the explosion of a gamut of nearly unpredictable, multi-colors in autumn; the powdery, white snows and leaden grays of winter; and the inkling of emerald, inflamed buds just starting to pop out from their winter doze.
Words do not do anything that is close to recounting the naturally splendid beauty that these mountains portray. It is like something spiritual is reaching down into our most intimate part – our soul – to whisper that creation is reflecting a Creator. The longer I have lived in Hayesville, I continue to be stunned by the splendor the area of Western North Carolina and North Georgia communicates. Mountains and fresh water – there is something incredibly special about the combination of those two. And this is coming from a guy who always has been mesmerized by sand, shells, and salt water.
We can look out upon those mountains every Sunday or any other time you happen to be at Good Shepherd; nevertheless, where we call home additionally has the hypnotic gifts of bodies of water. Lake Chatuge spans North Carolina and Georgia. Additionally, Fires Creek, Tusquittee Creek, and the Hiwassee River twist and turn their way throughout where we call home, literally in some of our backyards. If, however, you are willing to do some exploring of the origins of the rivers, creeks, and streams, you might just find yourself in an environment that takes you by complete astonishment.
I believe that Creation reveals a Creator. Admittedly, it is not that hard of a stretch for a priest to hold to this belief. There is, nonetheless, quite a difference to experience it along a root-riddled, rocky trail leading to a whispering waterfall. Over time the whisper grows louder as the conversation of the falling water picks up in volume. Quite suddenly the conversation becomes a pleasing roar that woos me to discover what I barely even visually behold.
White water stunningly succumbs to gravity down and off elevated rock formations. It even splashes outward and onto uneven rock outcroppings, as well as micro-forests of Mountain Laurel. Sometimes my glasses and my cell phone camera mist over with the imperceptible union of the blending of air and water. The entire atmosphere plainly feels both pure and powerful. I simply stay and breathe it all in.
While a drop of water is an absolute wonder, combine it with other tiny drops of water and a miraculous transformation occurs. Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote this: Too frequently we think that we have to do spectacular things. Yet if we remember that the sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts, each one of us can do our little bit where we are. Those little bits can come together and almost overwhelm the world. Each one of us can be an oasis of peace.
The pouring of fresh water from our baptism brings us into the Church community where each one of us can be an oasis of peace, as well as part of something bigger than we could ever be as a single drop of water. As a single drop of water and as hundreds of drops combined, you and I are part of God’s creation, where God is our Creator.