It’s my birthday! And that means it’s time for my annual birthday blog post. This year, I’m spending it in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where we are camping and hiking for several days.
Our campsite is right on the Little River at Elkmont Campground, and apparently, we lucked out by getting what veteran campers here refer to as “the primo site” (Site F8, if you happen to be going there). And I can see why! It’s private, quiet, and absolutely stunning.
Spring has sprung here, with tender green leaves unfolding with each passing moment and wildflowers covering the forest floor like sweet, delicate confetti, helping me to celebrate what it means to be alive.
At this moment, I am sitting at the edge of a mountain stream, watching the water tumble over a huge heap of rocks and boulders. I can’t help but wonder how long this seemingly endless gush has been going on for and how long it will last – a course gradually changing over time. A rhododendron bush is growing out of a crack in a boulder in an audacious attempt to survive. A little further upstream, a fallen tree rots, giving life to moss, ferns, and other plants. Butterflies and other insects zip about, full of mystery and wonder.
Spring is the time when the miracles of life are most apparent to me, including my own. I feel so lucky to be alive and experiencing this immensely beautiful world. I find gentle reassurance in the life pushing forward around me. But I also find quiet reassurance in the death and decay.
As I push forward in my own life’s journey, I find myself more willing to greet the varying experiences I find there, knowing with a calm heart that my journey, like all others, will someday end. In the meantime, it continues flowing, changing course along the way. And hopefully, the banks will continue to be rich and resplendent, with many places to stop for quiet reflection and perhaps an occasional refreshing swim!