Two days ago I had the honor of co-officiating at the marriage of two good friends of mine, Lauren and Michael. It was being held on the beautiful grounds of Berry College on the edge of a forest. While everyone was gathering I watched the wind rippling through the trees, and listened to the branches sigh a refrain. It was like they were clapping. When it was my turn to talk I talked about what a joyous occasion it was and mentioned a verse from Isaiah: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
It was a beautiful, joyous ceremony.
Yesterday, I was up early for my trip to Destin, Florida. The temperature was in the low 60’s and the scent of autumn was in the air. Big Red, my Harley Road King, was ready to go and was already half way edged out of the garage in expectation. I loaded on my gear, cranked her up and headed out Highway 27 south. Doesn’t take long when I’m riding in silence on the bike for me to be overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for everything I have in my life and for the twisty roads I still have a head of me. Silence and solitude are natural healers. Turn off the radio and the television, skip the newspaper and Facebook and let your own soul tell you about what’s important today.
I generally avoid interstate highways, preferring the old “blue” highways. And I ride without GPS or any maps/directions in plastic on the gas tank so, consequently I get lost a lot. I try to memorize route numbers and that works most of the time. The rest of the time I get lucky or I get lost. Either way, I’m okay with it. I managed to ride into a few towns I had never been in before and enjoyed the columned, wrap around porches, and the slower pace of life being acted out.
Out on the road again the cotton fields were beautiful, looking like places where snow was being grown. In some places the wind was helping white bolls escape and hurry across the highway. At the sides of the fields sat idle, long armed irrigation machines that looked like ambitious, but failed Wright brothers inventions.
I passed the place where the National Peanut Festival was held every year and stopped in Dothan, Alabama for barbecue at Dobbs Historic Barbecue. Big Red and I rode past the Bonsai store with its long window of Bonsai trees that solemnly watched us as we rode through Cottondale, Florida.
A few hours later than I had planned, I eventually made it to Destin. I had been on the road for 10 hours and had traveled over 400 miles. My motel was right across the street from one of my favorite places AJ’s restaurant, which sits right on the harbor. I parked Big Red and took off my helmet. It felt joyous to have simply made it, to have spent the day surrounded by beauty, and to finally be giving my backside a rest. I inhaled the fresh sea air, heard music playing in the distance and watched the breeze riffling through the palm trees. They were definitely clapping.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”