Getting lost is not always so bad! Coming home from a funeral in Mississippi yesterday, I was a trying to get home in time to go to a cookout at a friend’s house. I had taken a change of clothes, but I hit the road immediately upon leaving the cemetery. I have not had a car with a built-in navigation system for very long, so I guess I should have paid better attention to the route selection, as I think it listed 3 different routes. Anyway, I found myself on the Natchez Trace, which is beautiful, but a bit secluded for a woman traveling alone. I could not find a place to stop & change into the clothes I had brought with me to wear to the cookout, so I was attired in a dress, strapless sandals with heels, & pearls – not exactly the clothes of the typical explorer of old traversing that Trace!
At one point, I veered off course intentionally to go to an overlook at a dam, only to discover that it was closed! Trying to get back out of there, my GPS lost signal, & my phone could not get internet, so with nowhere to stop & ask for directions, I was left guessing which way to get out of there. This is one of the perils of having a navigation system: I was listening to its guidance, not paying attention on the way in, & depending upon it to guide me back out. Well, at one of those junctures where you have a 50% chance to get it right, in keeping with the story of my life, I guessed incorrectly.
Eventually I found myself at a spot where I saw a sign that led back to the town close to where the funeral was held! Oh, no, this cannot be right!! FINALLY, i stopped at a gas station to ask how to get to Alabama, & the girl looked at me as if I was asking directions to Mars! Well, all right then, I know the state line cannot be that far away, & that we are football rivals, but okay …
On a hunch, I turned off my car engine & re-started it & voila’, the GPS lady was back online!! (Still miffed at Toyota for not letting me have a male SIRI with an Aussie accent, but oh, well.) That gas station may or may not have had a restroom where I could change clothes, but after a quick glance around I decided I’d rather just change when I got to my friends’ house. But when SIRI started re-directing me, I realized I had strayed too far off of course to get to the cookout in time. So I chose to make the best of the journey anyway, & when I found myself back on the Natchez Trace, I started stopping at some of the landmarks along the route.
The Indian mounds were just as as recalled them from the last time I drove past them – just big bumps on the surface of the field covered in grass & weeds with a sign out front. They could very well just be piles of construction dirt, LOL.
The overlook was disappointing, but I did see a car pass by on the road below, if that is some thing to look at, ha ha. The sloughs leading down to the Tom-Bigbee waterway were a bit more intriguing, & I made a mental note to come back when I was more appropriately dressed & had a companion so I could take the trail down to the water. Then I happened upon Cave Spring. The name intrigued me, because my great-grandmother lived near a place in Alabama by that name once upon a time, & I had just been talking with one of my cousins at the Funeral Home about how the Native Americans used to use caves on my grandmother’s old family farm to keep watermelons & other perishables cold. I put the car in park, & still dressed in heels & a dress, ventured over to the sign which told about the cave, & then over to the sign which told about the sinkhole. It was a beautiful Spring evening, & the sinking sun was glistening off of the tall grass in the adjacent field, & I could hear bluebirds singing. At least I thought that they were bluebirds? It was an idyllic setting filled with serenity & peace. I so wanted to walk down & peer inside that cave!! The walkway was paved, but it was a little slick on the steps. What if I fell? My phone would not even pick up a signal to call for help, & not a soul on this earth knew my whereabouts. At that moment, the most beautiful male bluebird took flight from one of the bushes to my immediate left, & I thought that it is true – bluebirds stand for happiness, because though I had just left a funeral, & was going to miss my friend’s birthday dinner, I was happy to just be there soaking in God’s creation. And I was somehow unafraid. I have recently learned that if you try, you can stare down your Fears by looking them square in the face, so I did just that. I gingerly picked my way down those steps, wondering if I was ruining my new sandals, which I had worn less than half a dozen times.
It was a very short little climb down, one that would have been no problem whatsoever if I had proper footgear. But the photos I took do not do justice to the broad range of colors on the rocks & flora down there. It was stunningly beautiful! When I came back up to the parking lot, another bluebird (or perhaps the same one) took flight, & I just stood there & enjoyed being alive for a few moments before getting back on the road. At that point in time I did not care whether or not I had damaged my shoes.
It was near the place where the Natchez Trace meets Lee Highway that I saw a sign that said Buzzard’s Roost Spring. Daylight was fading quickly, & the road was fairly deserted, so I figured it might not be the best idea for me to venture there, but as I now had no dinner plans, I did so anyway. As I pulled into the little grassy circle, an enormous raven began making a raucous noise at me, & I recalled an old wives’ tale that this is a harbinger of danger, or worse, death. But the place was so very lovely, & there were just a few steps down to the little Spring, so I decided to throw caution to the wind, & make my way down there anyway, though I was still in heels, the rocks leading down were very uneven, & the ground was very wet. That raven kept calling out his warning. “Make good decisions!” How many times had I said that to my two kids over the years?!? If either of them told me that they were doing what I was doing, venturing into the woods alone with no cell service, no gun, & wearing clothing that could cause me to fall, I would have let them have it regarding what a stupid thing that was to do! Seriously. But the place smelled delightful! The breeze wafting through the trees was perfect – not too cold, & not at all sultry. And there was a handrail leading down, so a took a couple of tentative steps. Oops! I slipped a bit as that silly raven flew over the top of the tree canopy that embraced me, shouting his warnings yet again. What is the worst that could happen? This is so close to the highway that someone would find me pretty quickly if I fell. Then I thought about those huge over-sized turkey vultures I had seen feeding on road kill a couple of miles back as that raven made yet another loop overhead, screaming at me to go away. I paused, breathed in the fragrantly scented air, & I felt the softest caress of the breeze on my cheeks. So I ventured down anyway, slipping & sliding now & again, debating taking off my sandals & going barefoot one moment, then forgetting all about them the next. I silently prayed for God to guide my footsteps.
The sheer beauty of the place entranced me. It was cool, lush, green, & peaceful. Above all, I treasured that peace. I determined to go back there one day with a companion, so I would feel safe, & not have to worry whether someone was pulling into the parking lot overhead. Yet when you have a traveling companion, you do not find the same sense of peace in nature a you do when you are standing there alone, so this was like a special little gift from God to me. No one to rush me, no one to complain that I as going too slowly, & no one sighing loudly that they wanted to hurry along so they could watch another sitcom re-run on TV. Just me, God, & that enormous raven.
I snapped a few photos, as is my habit, but it was too dark, & I did not want to be caught down there in those high heels & no phone service should some stranger make a sudden appearance, so I did not make any attempt to adjust the camera settings. Besides, it was so very slippery that I would have probably tumbled down the hillside into the green spring anyway, had I started fooling with the camera.
It was not until I downloaded the photos onto my IMac at home that night that I saw a “face” in the spring. A woodland sprite? An angel watching over me?? Okay, I know it is just the rocks in the spring covered by that green algae or whatever it is, but I am a spiritual romantic, so it can be whatever I choose, right? Actually, I am a religious, spiritual romantic, so whether or not those rocks & shadows bear any resemblance of a face to anyone else, I know that God was there on that Trace with me.
Often people make fun of me for being a directionally challenged real estate agent. How on earth can you be a good agent if you can’t follow the GPS even? Well, that’s a story for another day, but let’s just say that I do have all of the other requisite skills! But sometimes I think that perhaps God made me directionally challenged so that I would have to rely more on Divine Guidance. He leads me sometimes to places I would otherwise not have stumbled upon by myself. This phrase kept visiting my mind when I was at the cave and then again at the spring: “Deep calls unto deep.”
And while I am not a very deep thinker in comparison to my academician friends, I do feel things very deep down in my soul. Before I wrote this, I searched online as to what it means when a raven cries out at you? One of the things I found online said that it means that you need to take heed & pay attention because you are missing something or forgetting a lesson that you have learned in the past. That was indeed interesting, because that is exactly what I was going to write about before I looked that up.Edit
My aunt was very brave as we stood beside the casket where in play and her husband of 30 some plus years asshe told me how he had died. But her voice broke, & her eyes flooded with tears when she said the words: “and then his heart just stopped.” But immediately afterwards, she brightened when she recalled what the nurses said were his last word son this earth: “Tell (my aunt) that I love her!” She smiled, at this thought. I reminded her that God has richly blessed her with not one, but two husbands that had really loved her. (She was a widow when she met this man.) my aunt is a wonderful lady who has always been very kind to me, which is why the long trek over to Mississippi and back by myself to see her. But at the funeral service itself, I could not help but feel a tiny bit of melancholy as I saw my cousins with their husbands and realize that I was there all along. My stage of life, it sings that society dictates that I should have a mate sitting inside me to support me in times like that. I am happily single most of the time, but it times like that, singleness seems out of place.
As I drove away from that cemetery, I was filled with sadness for my aunt, but also with a little hope.my aunt had lost the love of her life to leukemia, & after many years she had found love again. Perhaps God would let me find that kind of love one day. But then, as I drove around in a circle of my own making, there on the Trace, I heard those words for myself. In the bluebirds’ song at the cave, in the sunlight illuminating the innumerable wild flowers along the way, in the rich hues of the ages old rock formations, & in the Ravens protective cries, I knew He was speaking to me. Since no one else was there, I knew that He was speaking to me, and only me. And this is what He said: “I love you!”
I am loved by someone who showers me with incomparable treasures each & every day. Someone who never complains if I want to stop and take a photograph. Someone who willingly walks with me every step of the way. Someone who protects all. Someone always keeps promises. And that is the lesson that the raven was calling out to me: Sometimes you discover life’s greatest treasures, receive life’s biggest lessons, and find the best love when you are all alone.
I would have had a lot of fun at the birthday barbecue for my friend. I always have a great time when I go to that house for dinner. I hate that I missed it. But I’m very glad that I chose to accept my disappointment at my own mistakes, & make the best of my circumstances, even so. It seems that sometimes disappointments turn into things much better then you could have thought or imagined…
– Lou Lehman Sams