I grew up loving this little mountain in the suburbs of the city. My love for running began there. Like, really running. Hills, and long stretches, and quiet quiet serene. You have to really enjoy running to run here. It's not the kind of run that might earn you some honks or kudos like running down Peachtree. It's the kind that impresses on you a romance for running. Not the kind of exercise you do for calories but for something so much better.
My parents didn't like me going to the mountain alone. Nothing had ever happened there but with its presence also came a little mystery. There were so many miles of trails....countless miles and infinite forks in the trails to take just winding through tall, weathered trees and an occassional rememberance of a fallen soldier from the Confederate War. So I never felt alone at all. I've never been scared there but I remember I always ran a pace faster when I ran there.
So most of the time I was alone on my mountain. There was one season in high school I visited the tops of one of the little hills leading up to the mountain with my high school flame. It was one of those places you didn't feel like you had to talk. If you timed it perfectly the sun setting over the tops of the trees and the distant call of the train were more than words anyway. I specifically remember many trips up the mountain in the late afternoons after a classmate and dear friend of ours was tragically killed. Her funeral was one of the more impressionable things on my faith but that little hill up the mountain is where I wrestled and broke and healed over her death.
A few Christmas's my dad gathered the troops, as I am the oldest of 4, and we all hit the mountain together. This wasn't the most popular of ideas among a house full of new shiny things but somewhere deep in me this was the most special thing under the tree. My siblings make fun of me to this day about how I euphorically recall these few hikes even when their memories aren't as shiny. Don't we sometimes memoralize the things that really get us? Those family hikes meant something to me that I wasn't certain of at the time.
My parents moved away from our home town when I was a sophomore in college. I would come "home" still on some weekends and I would always go to the mountain. I didn't have a home to go to in Marietta anymore but I didn't feel even a bit out of place rounding the end of the 5 mile run just as the sun started to bow and the trees had whispered to me the whole way. Exhaling so hard and feeling the cold burn my lungs all the way down to my toes. I can close my eyes and feel 19 so clearly. I wondered and questioned alot on that mountain and sometimes after some answers came I would sing aloud, too. It's like this place knows my whole story. The yucky and the beautiful.
Luckily years later my would be husband had a thing for the outdoors, too, and he even decided to train for a half marathon while running with me on those trails. Or maybe it was just to make an impression. Either way it worked. Since we have been married we have spent many long Saturdays allowing the woods and the inclines to witness to our needy souls.
Lately I have been getting to know my favorite place again. Anew. My parents now live so close to this precious place that I can't go visit them without making sure to have time to get on the mountain. This past Wednesday the trees and the quick switches up the mountain were just the therapy I needed. This place is where I can worship. Yes, I may really raise my hand on occassion but it's an even better kind of worship. Do you know that feeling where your insides literally dance? Where everything seems to be just for you? How among all of this can the Lord be speaking to me, too? And that's what draws me closer to God more each passing year. That the mountains and the burning orange sunsets can be in the same thought as me and my fragile little heart. Yet all of it is for His glory. That's the thread that has been the constant in my love affair with this mountain. God's glory. My joy.
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