Tuesday, August 3, 2010

my heaven

I recently read the book "the five people you meet in heaven". It was a pretty good read.
If you haven't read it, I'll give you a little bit of info about it so that you can understand what I'm about to write.

In the book a man named Eddie passes away. However,  instead of going directly to heaven he must first meet five people and learn 5 lessons. With each person he meets, he goes to "their heaven"--a place they loved and want to spend eternity. For example, when Eddie meets the first man, he goes to a theme park because this is where the man was the happiest in his life.

This is a nice idea. I'm not sure I think that's how it's going to be but, I get the point.
It did make me think about what I would want "my heaven" to be, if I could pick.

So, where was I the happiest?

I love the beach. it's beautiful and peaceful. Warm and sunny. That would be nice. But not necessarily  my pick.

Scotland's rolling hills were incredible. A sight that is hard to explain unless one has been there. Rainbows upon rainbows. Green, rolling hills that seems to go on forever. One of my favorite places I have visited, but not THE favorite.

I love Thailand with it's amazing sights and incredible people.

Tennessee almost feels like home, even though I've only visited a couple of times.

All of those places are spectacular.

But if I had to pick one place, just one, I would pick the canyon on my family's land.

I've tried to describe our canyon to people before who have never heard of or been to such a place, and I fear I've done a poor job.

So let me try, once again to give a fair description of this place that touches my heart so deeply.

Through the land that my family owns runs a canyon. Not large and vast like the grand canyon and not small and shallow like a creek.

You drive through the pasture and there's a line of trees all along. It just looks like a regular tree row. But,  past those trees, lies the canyon. You weave your way down the trails that the cattle have created over the years. After a few minutes trek, you hear and smell the water before you see it. You come upon the edge and below is the stream and pools. green moss, red sand rock, wild flowers and clear water greet you.  There are streams to wade in and deep, cool pools to swim in. there are fish to catch. It's truly breath taking...almost magical.

But the beauty is not the only reason why I love it. =It's the memories that that canyon holds.

When my sister and I were little girls, after working out in the summer sun, our daddy would take us for a swim in the canyon. We'd splash and play. We were never afraid of snakes or any other animals because we knew our dad was there to protect us. There was never a worry or a care; just freedom and pure happiness.

Sometimes, if we had time, Dad, my sister and I would "walk the canyon". This meant, we would start at the swimming hole and walk south all the way to the end. There comes a point on the walk where the canyon splits and you can go left and continue until you leave our land and the canyon becomes someone else's property. This is a pretty easy journey. But, if you go right, there's a little more adventure to be had. This way is a little more rugged. Less traveled. More moss and fallen trees. But the end result is so cool! You get to the pool, which is called "the Devil's Soup Bowl" and it completely dead-ends. It's just sand rock wall straight up for about 15 feet. The water is so clear and cold, as it is fed by natural springs. There's even a little cave up in the wall. A long time ago you could access the cave via a ledge, but over the years the ledge has eroded. I hear there are some initials of some pretty ornery boys carved in there; one set being my dad's.

If you decided you wanted to go north from the swimming hole, there are more initials to be seen. Etched into the wall of sand rock, you will find my papa's initials and my daddy's. you see, it was one of their favorite places too.

I've shared so many fun times in that old muddy canyon.
My first camping experience was on the banks of the stream in the canyon when I was only a few years old.
My nephews and I loved to go play there. Sometimes making our own "huckleberry fin" type poles to fish with.
My best friend Sarah and I would go there often when we were teens to just get away.

The summer before my senior year of high school, 3 of my best friend's and myself camped there. It was sooo hot, but lot's of fun. We played in the water and cooked hot dogs; built a bon fire that was way too big and completely unnecessary in August. We felt so grown up, being out there on our own.  I cherish that time so much because it was one of the last times that I  got to spend with my friend and cousin, Jan. We lost her a few years later in a car accident. The picture that was chosen to be on her headstone is actually from that very trip. I can still hear her sweet laugh and the other girls as well, as we lay in that tent so many years ago talking about boys and the upcoming school year and whatever else 18 year old girls discuss.

I've heard stories so many times about my daddy and his daddy in that canyon, that they feel like my own. My dad and his friends played there, making forts and doing God only knows what else. My papa played there when he was young as well.

Life always seemed so much better on the canyon. Not that I didn't have a perfectly wonderful life, but everyone has bad days now and again. But in that canyon everything else just faded away. For the moments we were there, there were no worries, no arguments, no stress. Just peace. Like I said, it was pretty magical.

I haven't been there in several years. but it's in my heart. I still know it like the back of my hand. It's such an important part of me. Nothing but joy comes to my mind when I remember the canyon.

So yeah, I guess if heaven were the place you were the happiest in this life, my heaven would be the canyon--tall green grass, wild flowers, clear streams and pools.  And memories, beautiful memories.

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