“Some men yearn to revisit their past. They either return to places of fear or to places that forged their character.” Author Unknown
Today, the United States is facing the most intense challenges in decades. However, the people of our Republic will not fail in meeting these challenges.
This weekend, I chose to take a reprieve from the 24 hour news, updates, and controversies.
Fall – 1982 – Cloudland Canyon, Georgia
Six people make the trip from west Georgia to the northwest corner of Georgia. My father and I are among the travelers. The other four are my father’s two friends and their sons. It would be an experience that I would not forget.
As we arrive at the cabin near Cloudland Canyon, the other boys and I jump out of the stylish 1980’s minivan and begin to explore things that we have never seen. There are mountains, massive rocks, and an abundance of wildlife.
After dinner, the three nine year old boys stay up way too late. The next morning, the fathers wake us up early. We complain, grumble, and ask for another hour of sleep. None of this works. It is time to take the descent into the canyon.
We begin the long descent down the western part of Lookout Mountain toward the largest and most majestic waterfall.
I am so excited by the thunderous sound of water falling from the rock into the lagoon that I start to run down the steep path until I trip on a rock and luckily grab a thick tree to stop my fall. My father is relieved, but upset at my recklessness at the same time.
After 20 minutes, we arrive at a place that I would never forget.
The fathers, who may have stayed up a little too late the night before as well, relax on the rocks watching us wade into the lagoon.
I walk behind the waterfall and kneel. My friends join me. We agree to jump through the waterfall into the lagoon at the same time. On the count of three, it happens. As I come up for air, I see the fathers standing on the banks. They are proud.
That is my last memory of the Canyon until today.
June 21, 2020 – Cloudland Canyon - Today is Father’s Day. I feel a strong yearning to return to the place I had not seen in almost 40 years.
As we pull into Cloudland Canyon, my boys are ready to jump out of the truck. I am excited too. But, this time, I am the father and will have a very different experience.
We park, pack our gear, and take the long descent toward the waterfall.
After 20 minutes, we arrive. The scene is the same as I remembered as a little boy. Before I can provide a boring historical account of Cloudland Canyon, the boys are in the lagoon.
I just smile atop a large rock watching my boys play in the water, climb behind the waterfall, and jump into the water.
We stay for a few hours and then return to the hotel to get some rest. The climb up the mountain has not gotten any easier over the years.
For a couple of days, we are far away from the problems our nation must fix. This gives me time to reflect on being a son and a father.
I do not deserve to have two sons who I love unconditionally. They are two of the most wonderful examples of God’s grace in my life.
Returning to the Canyon reminded me of the early forging of my own character.
More importantly, it showed me that my primary responsibility is to continue to forge the character of my boys. Happy Father’s Day.