It has been a little over a week since I shared my last reflection. We truly enjoyed a wonderful trip to Tennessee, specifically to the Smoky Mountains.
Our rental cabin was pretty high up on a mountain, with spectacular views.
There were many moments on our trip that captured my attention. One moment in particular stood out. We had returned to our cabin Wednesday night, with the reality that there was a significant fire close by. Indeed, we could smell the smoke in the air. And, we could see the smoke clouds, as we tried to return to our rental that night. Our phones were pinging with emergency alerts about this close by fire. However, we did not fully know where it was, we simply knew the fire was close.
A moment captured me. I stood on our deck, looking at the incredible beauty of our mountain, though we were unsure if we would need to evacuate. We ended up evacuating that Wednesday night, out of an abundance of caution, with uncertainty in which way the winds would blow the fire next.
Imagine, looking out over such calmness and beauty, with the reality that just minutes away a wildfire is burning? It was hard to drink in the beauty from the deck, while being aware of the raging fire, chaos, and destruction moments away.
Our cabin was next to another cabin. Thankfully, that cabin was occupied by permanent residents of the area, who had relocated there from Indiana. They were able to help us navigate off the mountain that night, and also provided us with a youth room at their church to sleep in.
There are so many dichotomous moments in life. Like our example, where we were taking in the calmness and beauty of the mountain, but also fully aware of a raging fire, that we could smell the smoke from.
What can we learn from that?
I think one of the lessons we can learn is empathy. You never know what might be unfolding in someone else’s story, especially if you are in a season where things are “well with your soul.” You may have peace and calmness in your souls, yet, the person right next to you may have chaos and uncertainties unraveling in theirs. This does not mean you should stop celebrating the beauty you may be experiencing in a season. Feel that beauty, and be encouraged by the warmth and hope it brings you. However, always be empathetic, attentive, and aware of others. Be gracious and graceful when engaging others. We simply do not know what is happening in the lives of others, unless we stop to read their stories.
We were able to enjoy our trip, and continue with our soul captivating hikes, as soon as the next day after we evacuated. Though, for many in that immediate area, they lost their properties and will have to rebuild. Our hearts, love, and prayers have remembered that since we visited.
This week we remember that we often live in the space in-between. We remember that there are dichotomous moments unfolding all around. That reality should keep us alive and available to grace, grace, empathy, and more grace.