I miss the time with you


Thunder rumbles off in the distance as the sun breaks through the overcast like a thousand streams of gold. Just minutes earlier, the storm had been pounding our houseboats, rocking them back and forth in the wind and the waves, and holding us prisoner inside. Now that the storm has passed, we see that it has cleansed the sky and everything else in its path, leaving behind the sweet smell of a fresh rainfall. The air is thick as the fallen rain begins its journey upward to become a new cloud.
With the storm moving off, the prisoners are released, and the outdoor activities begin again. The drone of eight diesel generators can be heard beneath the sounds of paintball gunshots, ski boat engines starting, and the rattling of fishing tackle. The men on the retreat resume the activities once halted by the storm. It is time.
Each year, during the retreat, I take some time to go off alone to a secluded cove on this enormous man-made reservoir. Although Lake Cumberland is landlocked in Kentucky, the size of the lake and the mountains around it, give me a sense of ocean and mountain, my favorite places to visit. I don my wetsuit and make my way to a personal watercraft. As I push the water bike off the shoreline of broken shale, I anticipate a special time of quiet meditation once I reach my destination. With the push of the starter button, the engine comes to life and I begin my search for a special place and time, leaving the busyness of the houseboats and our island retreat behind.
As I skip across the rippling waves, I am in awe of the splendor of this place. Passing between two islands, I see a cove off to the right in the bend ahead. Maybe this is the place. Leaving behind the wide channel of Otter Creek, I enter the cove. I make my way to the head of the cove, killing the engine and drift the final few yards. Yes, I think this is the spot.
The air is filled with the smell of wet cedar and pine trees. The water at the head of the cove is filled with broken limbs that once sprouted lush green foliage and other death that the storm had washed the mountainside clean of. Only ten feet from each other, twin waterfalls cascade down the mountain on their journey to the great body of water below. The gentle roar of the water, making its way from broken ledge to broken ledge has a soothing and relaxing effect on my spirit. I sit and try to absorb all of this majestic beauty. As my eyes move upward, I marvel at the cedar trees clinging to the fragile footholds in the crevasses that support their great mass. The rain droplets at the tips of their needles glisten like a thousand precious diamonds, as the radiant sunshine seems to turn them into tiny rainbows. As I look for the birthplace of the twin waterfalls, it is as if they are dancing side to side as they make their way down the mountainside from one rocky protrusion to the next. The green moss is especially lush near these vertical streams. How can such a rocky cliff support such beautiful flora? This scene extends hundreds of feet into the air until it joins with the cobalt sky above.
As I try to store these images in my mind, I glimpse a flash of brilliant indigo out of the corner of my eye. A five-inch-long five-lined skink has come out of its shelter to allow the sun to warm its body. The black and gold lines along its body give it its name. The skink’s indigo tail seems to almost glow as it basks in the warming rays. After a time of warming, the skink resumes its search for the next meal, making its way along the ledges until it disappears into an opening in the side of the cliff.
Off to my left, I see a small flutter of white. A butterfly is making its journey from plant to plant. Even with its small size, it stands out against the green and gray background. Watching the butterfly make its way along the rocky cliffs, there is almost an unspoken communication as it flutters in my direction. I watch in amazement as it continues toward me, finally coming to rest on my hand. The expression, “butterfly kisses” immediately comes to mind, along with the song lyrics containing that expression. Somehow, my new friend knows there is no danger and pauses from its busyness to spend a few moments with me. I am awestruck. I notice a blue circle on its back winglets that I had not noticed from a distance. My little friend walks about in my hand as if we are old friends. I gently whisper, “God is so good.” I will never forget this breathtaking time of solitude.
I need to return to my responsibilities on the island. I push the button and start the engine. The sounds of nature are interrupted once more, yet my little friend remains with me. I turn the water bike around and head back out into Otter Creek, cupping my hand to make a windbreak for my friend. We make our way to a rocky point extending one hundred yards into the creek on the other side. I stop and the little butterfly flutters off to resume its life in the wild. I head back to the island, changed by the experience.
As I reflect on this time, I remember the storm and how it had seemed to almost put life on hold. Yet, once the storm had passed, it left behind a wonderful scene of beauty and renewed life. Without the storm, there would have been no waterfalls. Without the storm, the cedar trees would not have been adorned with their jewels. Without the storm, no cleansing would have taken place.
Hidden beneath the hustle, bustle, and business of life, peace, and contentment can be found, if we only slow down and look for it. It is waiting for us, just beyond the edge of the storm.

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