I recently read and enjoyed an article in Pantheist Vision* about someone’s experiences in two of our national parks, Mount Rainier and Big Bend. I haven’t been fortunate enough to travel a lot and visit our parks, except for one. I have lived most of my life in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, living just a few miles from the entrance on the North Carolina side. So over the years I’ve done hiking, picnics, day rides, camping, leaf looking, and even tubing once upon a time in the Smokies, and I feel they’re always watching over me and protecting me. In fact, they have protected us from severe weather on occasion. I’ve seen bears and deer and watched the elk that have been fairly recently introduced here, gazed at mountain vistas for miles, listened to the music of creeks and rivers, and seen old historic buildings from long-ago lives, from the Cherokee Indian reservation (Qualla Boundary) up to Clingman’s Dome and over to Gatlinburg and Cades Cove in Tennessee. There are a lot of memories in the Smokies.
(Elk in the Smokies)
I love these mountains (we have quite a few national forests and also I’m just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway), such a beautiful place for a nature lover to live! I’ve never taken the park for granted, and I think most people around here feel the same way. It’s a wonderful and special place to us and I never get tired of the mountain views, the trees and flowers, streams, waterfalls, and all the critters that call it home. I don’t do so much hiking as I used to, don’t have the time right now, but maybe in the future I’ll be able to again. Regardless, even if I move away to be nearer to children and grandchildren, I know these mountains, including the Smokies, will always be a part of me. It’s one of those things that’s hard to explain, but the feeling is real, that feeling of connection, that goes so deep, that oneness with nature, with all of life. This talk of privatizing and selling off some of these lands and using them for development or drilling/fracking makes me both worried and incredibly sad. I can’t imagine western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee without the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the history of it, and having children growing up without knowing the beauty and specialness of such a place that we’re fortunate enough to live close to and so many people come to visit. Hopefully, that will never happen and it will be here for many, many years to come just like it is now.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Raindrop Ridge Press
*Pantheist Vision is the publication by the Universal Pantheist Society. Please consider joining this organization, the oldest pantheist group in the world, around since 1975, as they provide a place for pans to gather, as well as to share information about Pantheism in general.