11/1/2005 Before I Drive Away

The sign reads: “Scenic View - 1 mile”. Although every traveler on this busy interstate seems to be late, I am relieved at the opportunity to stop and take in the landscape that has been rushing by at 70 miles an hour.

Graffiti scars the guard rails; the ground is littered with trash left by those too simple to realize the offense committed by marring the beauty of this place. But just past these signs of selfish human consumption lies an awe-striking scene. Down the valley, rolling hillsides are spotted with a multitude of God's creations. Trees splashed with glorious autumn hues, a farmhouse whose chimney exhales wisps of breathy smoke, and a pristine white country church are all that break the monotony of a gentle green backdrop. Weightless clouds hang suspended by unseen strings, controlled by an invisible One who breathes the air nudging them gently across the sky.

A flashy car speeds by, and an expensive camera quickly snaps a picture through a rolled-down window. Overwhelmed by what they’ve missed, I wonder - don't they know that beauty can't be hastily gulped and swallowed? Don't they understand that the beauty was in that very moment, not in a picture that may occupy a dusty album?

Another vehicle pulls up, and though I’m at first relieved to see them open their doors unto this overwhelming sight, the monotonous hum of the passing traffic is quickly intruded upon by the discord of a piercing argument that blessedly lasts only long enough for the travelers to change places before pulling away. I shake my head in amazement, but am thankful for their haste. Don’t they know that silence is a gift?

What has happened? How could it be that in the 30 minutes that I am delighted by this place, I only see 2 visitors, neither whom accept this complimentary offering? In a world of stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure, hasn’t anyone discovered the calming effect of the loveliness of nature, the tingle of cheeks kissed by chilly air, the peace of nature’s silence?

If I could fly over the treetops, and touch down on the steps of that country church, I would lift my eyes upward and pray that I never become too busy to be inspired, to be blessed, to be touched – by beauty. I don’t have wings, so I breathe those words aloud to the sky - right where I stand - before I drive away