Words of Genuine
Today marks one week since I returned to days of habit after my ten-day retreat to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. Every time I return to that area, I locate a special sense of soul rejuvenation. This year was a bit different than previous years. Rather than hitting the road for a daily dose of off the beaten path exploratory field trips, I anchored myself to the cabin by the lake for a week. Instead of my usual camera day trips, protecting time to focus on my graduate thesis took precedence this year. Soul sparking however was still completely engaged.
As I made my way through the week, I would occasionally slip away from my studies for a bit of fresh air, for both my lungs and my head. Never venturing too far away, my outstepping found me in an occasional thrift store, or junk store, or yard sale; the local grocery store; or a favorite country store to fill the gas tank and perhaps to pick up a package or two of their homemade chocolate, peanut butter, and oatmeal preacher cookies. The week delivered of all things, a renewed belief in the power of conversation.
There wasn’t a day that passed where I didn’t find myself engaged with one of the locals. Each one offered a welcoming absence of business proposals, economy complaints, broken record political banter, or an abundance of select negative tones simply for the sake of completing a statement. Each individual was real and honest. We spoke face to face, looking at one another eye to eye, all without any distractions of a vibrating text message or the buzzing of a cell phone. There was also a genuine smile that nearly always followed the period at the end of every spoken sentence. Real is real.
Several of these faces I catch up with each year when I return to the rural area for my annual getaway. I look forward to seeing them and feel certain that the feeling is mutual. I met several new friends this year. Most were simply faces along my path and more than likely ones I’ll not run into again. Some however I will see again and I look forward to whenever that time happens. Whatever the case, our conversation and words of five minutes, thirty, or hours mattered.
As I prepared to return from my week and a half away, one of those friends stopped by the cabin to say goodbye the night before I was to head home. The two of us laughed and chatted for nearly an hour about things that mattered: life. Before he left, he took another sip from his coffee cup and mentioned that he had a little something for me. He handed me a small package. Tucked inside of a black velvet sheath was a wood barreled writing pen that he’d made for me. It was trimmed in antique brass and had a black ink cartridge. Using his wood lathe, he’d hand turned the South American hardwood that week in his woodshop. He explained that the wood was given to him by his pastor. After nearly a week and a half of engaging conversations, words, and descriptive text from my week of study, I suddenly found myself with little to no words to reply with. Although it seemed so incomplete and not nearly enough, “thank you” delivered with an honest smile was as sincere as I could come up with. I meant both.
Living in a society where personal matters are broadcast to the world every fiber of every second and then forgotten as old news a minute later, my recent revival experience of personal interaction, life, and words was a spirited gift of humanity.