I see them every time I drive. Everywhere I go.
I’ve always loved mountains.
A shared love for mountains recently led my husband, Jeremy, and I on a trip to Cades Cove, which is about 30 minutes from Pigeon Forge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
On the drive from Pigeon Forge to the cove, I kept commenting on the scenery — the rushing water in the creek to the right of the park road, the climbing vines and the trees.
To which Jeremy would respond, “You haven’t seen anything, yet.”
And he was right.
Cades Cove can be seen on a loop road in the park. The entire time we were surrounded by mountains everywhere we looked. It is so hard to describe the beauty.
If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it.
One reason we enjoyed the trip so much is because the cabins at the Visitor Center and the scenery are similar to the backdrops for one of our favorites TV series, “Christy.” The series ran from April 1994 to August 1995. It chronicles the adventures of Christy Huddleston from Asheville, N.C., as she teaches in a one-room schoolhouse in the remote hills of Tennessee.
I had seen a few rerun episodes when I was a kid and loved them. When I found out that a mutual friend had the entire season on DVD, I was excited to see them all.
What surprised me the most was how much Jeremy enjoyed the series.
Perhaps because I had always watched it with my mother, I didn’t think it would be something a man would be interested in.
Part of Jeremy’s interest in the series was because he had been to a remote community in the hills of Tennessee and it reminded him of his trip.
“Christy” was filmed in Townsend and the Great Smoky Mountains, but don’t go into those hills looking for buildings where the series was filmed. Believe me, we asked. They don’t seem to exist.
However, the buildings at the Cades Cove Visitor Center give a feel for how people lived in the area in days gone by.
At one point while I was enjoying the scenery of the mountains surrounding Cades Cove, I started thinking about how I was in a valley. Valleys throughout literature represent dark times in characters’ lives.
To quote the psalmist, “Yea though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of Death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (King James Version)
Yet for there to be a valley there have to be higher places.
How many times do we focus on the valley instead of the beauty of the mountains that surround us?
Mountaintops are sometimes used to refer to victory and triumph.
What if when we feel like we are in the valley of death we looked up to the mountains, stopped and contemplated their beauty rather than the dust and darkness in the valley?
I have never been mountain climbing, but when I was in Chile I spent a lot of time near huge mountains.
I would see the snow-capped Andes mountains every day when I woke up. I never tired of standing on the hotel’s small balcony and looking at them. On the trip, I also spent time on top of mountains.
I loved looking down and seeing the city and seeing how far I could see.
Mountains give a new perspective. They allow us to look down at where we have been in fresh light. Suddenly, the vast valley we just came through seems so small. The large boulders now seem mere pebbles.
That problem that seems impossible to solve seems a lot smaller once you are on the other side.
Mountains themselves often represent struggle. Once again I turn to the psalmist for inspiration.
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills — From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.” (KJV)
Thus reaching the top of a mountain is often compared to overcoming some great life obstacle.
To take my comparison further, what if rather than getting caught up in the shadows I’m trudging through, I look at the mountains I am heading to and think of what I’ll see at the top?
Life is a journey of mountains and valleys. Though it seems like the shadows may swallow me, though it may seem the struggle of the mountain climb will kill me, I know I’m not alone.
So I keep trudging, “look to the hills” and know, as the psalmist did, where true help can be found.