"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Breathing Space

My husband and I just returned from a quick get-away to the north GA mountains.  There was nothing special about the occasion other than I had bought a Groupon several months ago and we had to cash it in before the end of April.  And, well, we're almost to the end of April.  But the timing was good.  I have just come off a season of teaching Bible study which, if I'm to be honest, always adds a little weight to my life, and I could use some REFRESHMENT in both my mind and spirit.

Refreshment: Webster's says, "something that provides new vigor and energy ... that makes fresh again."  Dictionary.com reads, "the act of invigorating."  But here's the one that RINGS my bell.  In the Greek, refreshment means breathing space.  Yes!   I could use some of that!

The weather forecast for Friday and our trip up was for rain, wind, and strong thunderstorms.  And indeed, the weatherman was right in his prediction.  But it was never severe and became for me a prelude to His gift of refreshing.  After all, don't you feel better after a bath?  I do.

Lunch was at Cafe International in downtown Helen.  The rain was only falling lightly and the temperature hadn't dropped so much that we couldn't sit on the porch and enjoy the calming view and sound of the Chattahoochee River while eating our sandwiches.  BREATHE ....

A planned breathing space was The Mark of the Potter situated on the Soque River.  Built in 1931, it was once home to Grandpa Watts' Grist Mill, which you can still see, and is literally filled with earthen treasures. 

Shop front
Mark of the Potter

I bought these.

A wine goblet ... for communion.  I chose this particular one because of its outward simplicity and its crimson interior.  

A miniature vase for miniature wildflowers

A tea cup ... already being used as you can see
One of the interesting things about north GA is all the little shops and working studios stuck here and there throughout the countryside.  One such is Hickory Flat Pottery owned by Cindy Angliss and located on Hwy. 197.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the house itself, an historic 112 year-old homestead complete with tin roof, but when I got out of the vehicle, I was too taken with this little fellow.  A couple of clicks with my tongue, and I had his attention. BREATHE....

I bought several pieces once again, but this time, I had the artisan sign them: Cody Trautnor is his name.

Not only is he as cute as a button, he's going to be famous one day...

I found my happy place when I was filling them up.
Unicoi State Park is a wonderful place to "camp."  The view is great, the food is delicious, and there's a coffee maker in every room!  Not to mention this ....
Yep.  I spotted him when he stuck his little head out from under the bedspread on the floor.  I told my husband it was him (the lizard) or me, but one of us was going.

He chose wisely...

I have a feeling HE was breathing a prayer of thanksgiving at this point...

After dinner and before the sun set, we took a little hike down to the lake.  Sunsets are always nice.  BREATHE ...

On Saturday morning, due to the unseasonably cool temps, we opted for indoor entertainment and went to the Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia.  It was so interesting to see a vessel made literally from ground up.  How richer the Word became as I watched a potter take clay from the ground, grind it, mix it, beat it, form it, and, yes, put it through the fire.  Indeed, He is the Potter; we are the clay.  Masterpieces, the work of His hands, according to Isaiah 64:8.

Our next stop was to The Gourd Place.  With Simon and Garfunkel playing on the CD player and freshly picked wildflowers labeled and placed on the mantel, it was nothing short of a sanctuary.  Both Priscilla and Janice bring their artistic flair and love for the "Creative Force" to those who enter.  This will be one of those places to which I will return again and again. I breathed so deeply there ...
Priscilla has developed and patented stoneware pottery molded in gourds.  Absolutely beautiful!
And what trip to the mountains is complete without a hike?  While at High Country Turquoise, where I found these 2 treasures:
Chalcopyrite (a sulfide mineral) -- you should see it in the sun!

Made by the Navajo 
... the owner suggested we walk the trail to Dukes Creek Falls in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  
It was just over a mile down ... which if calculated correctly means just over a mile back up.

But so worth it!

It had been a long time since I had stood in the spray of a water fall.  Refreshment in the full sense of the word! BREATHE....

One last stop before dinner was to The Willows Pottery, "nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians."  It, too, is a working studio and gallery.  And as an early Mother's Day gift, my husband purchased this pitcher for me.
I can't help but just love the "accident" that happened while firing.  It's my favorite piece!
"And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do." Jeremiah 18:4
The day ended with a trip down Scenic Highway 197 to Lake Burton and a breathing space at La Prada's  Chophouse where we sat on the porch overlooking the river and watched all the prom dates decked in gowns and tuxes ... being thankful we are on THIS side of that social calendar.

Yes.  Respites all along the way.  Wild turkeys, cattle among dogwoods, the sound of raindrops on tin roofs, a lizard, horses, experiencing God in odd places, and more shades of green than I could count.  My lungs were full and my spirit invigorated.

We left the following morning with one more impromptu stop ... and probably the biggest refreshment of all.
I got to eat lunch and play cars with this little man!
How grateful I am for this special weekend of refreshment.  A breathing space.  But as I sat with a friend this morning in a pain clinic, I was made all too aware of the need of so many not to just have a breathing space, but to take just one breath without pain.  And not just the physical kind.  Pain, after all, comes in all sorts of sizes and fashions.  But for so many, the pain is too much, the grief too great.  And a place to breathe must be found in something more than waterfalls and wild turkeys.  A lasting time of refreshment must be based on something greater than a piece of pottery or rolling green pastures, for one will eventually break and the other turn brown.  The promise is that the Lord Himself will give times of refreshing because He Himself is the Living Water and He Himself gives the Spray of the Holy Spirit.  

I love what Fleming Rutledge writes: "He [God] will send unexpected signs of His mercy and sudden surprises of His grace." He certainly did that for me this weekend.  Could it be that He will use you or me to do just that for another who is only looking for a little breathing space?

To whom can you be a breath of fresh air?

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.  
Proverbs 11:25

Just an ordinary moment...

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