This weekend I poked the ‘Sleeping Giant’ – or so the First Americans named the highest point in Alabama. They also reverently dubbed it “Chaha” (‘high place’) for obvious reasons.
Few made their home way up on Cheaha because it lacked water sources and other convenient amenities, but – and this stretches even to these modern days – viewed it as a holy mountain, conducive to soul reflection, prayer and meditation. It’s been a favorite trudge for pilgrims for generations.
So, fittingly on the Lord’s Day, I carved a sabbath rest for myself and took my soul on a pilgrimage upward…and thought I might share the story in pictures.
I could point to 1981 as the year that changed everything for me. God used a dirty stack of dishes, a letter, a preacher, a cassette tape and a scripture in the space of a fortnight to grab hold of my shoulders, shake me awake, and turn me about.
I don’t have time to expound on the first group – take me for coffee and I’ll talk your ear off – but I can sure tell you about that scripture:
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
My precious completer and bride is tooling around Great Britain these days and would have a duck if she knew I was out exploring the Grand Outdoors in my wheelchair all by my lonesome. Can’t help it. My soul was crying out for a retreat, begging for a change of scenery, jonesing for a distinctive connection with my Maker.
Before Sandy left for her lifelong dream of visiting the old country across the Pond, I sat her down and said I needed to ask her something. She swallowed hard, looked terrified, and eased herself back into the sofa.
“I’ve been pricing cameras for over a year…” I began tentatively.
Her posture relaxed slightly as I explained my need for a hobby that would get me out of the living room. Reading is my top dog hobby – and that wouldn’t change, ever – but I was in need of some vitamin D and sunshine. She nodded. A smile began to curl at the edges of her mouth. But…I needed to venture more deeply into the terrifying woods of permission. We have a standing arrangement for purchases: anything of significant value ($50 for our poverty-line heinies) cannot be acquired without verbal consent of the other.
Knowing this, I silently sucked in a lungful of air and waded in.
Amazon, I announced, was reducing the prices on their bridge cameras in the week leading up to Mother’s Day – many by nearly 50%! – which, I knew, was a language she spoke well. Not retail, Scott. Never retail. Wait for the clearance prices, she always says. I knew she’d be proud of her student.
Long story short, Sandy was beamingly proud, and bequeathed to me permission to buy a $300-plus Nikon (the higher end of their low-end equipment, perfect for novices like me) for far, far less.
I have loads of friends who are completely at home with a camera and can teach me a lot – and I need them to. Except for my iPhone camera, this is unnervingly new territory for me, but, intrigues me to no end. And too, knowing we are a visual society, it’s a can’t-miss proposition.
The Psalmist, had he had a long-lens camera, would have peppered his prayers with visuals. Towers, rocks, cool streams, thirsty deer, green pastures, etc. – all captured to paint the story.
This is my own story – a visual psalm – of a spiritual retreat and soulful pilgrimage. Gotta say, I hope these will just lead to more of this nature.