I bring you greetings from a writer’s loft above City Lights bookstore in Sylva, NC.
It’s Sunday evening. River and I have hit pause on the The Great Southern Wing and a Prayer Tour. In just a bit, I’m going to venture out and take pictures of this lovely town. Even now, I can see a rock solid church steeple from one window of my loft and the stately Blue Ridge Mountains from the other—they are both calling me outdoors. Tomorrow I’ll resume the tour blogging and catch y’all up on Chris, his staff, and the other good folks we’ve met here, as well as their thoughts on the state of the book.
There is much I could do in these few moments, not the least of which is editing tons of footage or working on my manuscript while River hammers out her own deadlines in the room below me, but I’ve got a story for y’all that’s burning in my fingers. I want to talk about the Hand of Providence. I am seeing it at every turn in this road, in every face, every detour, every delight and yes, in every challenge.
Today we’ve driven through scenery that has spoken of our Creator with such voice that at times it seemed to stop just short of audible.
I want Him to know that to my knowledge and the best of my ability, I didn’t miss a mountain, a stream, a pebble, or rock that He wanted me to see on our drive. But, that’s where my story begins, for I could have missed it all and this my soul knows very well.
The landscape picture posted above and the ones you’ll see below represent only a segment of today’s road trip. The rest of it will have to be drawn with words as we spent the larger part of the day navigating the backroads, detouring around a huge rock slide that has wrecked travel horror on this neck of the woods. And trust me, there was no picture taking on the beautifully dangerous mountain pass that wound up, down, and around these hills. For two people who routinely make jokes about our lack of concentration, focus was no longer an issue. The curves had our attention, God had seen to that last night in the form of a homeless black man on the streets of Chattanooga, TN. I’m just betting if you’ve read this far, I now have your attention, too. Good.
We were leaving Rock Point Books when he approached us. I’ve forgotten his legal name, if he gave it, but Street-wise could’ve been his handle. Could he help the “lovely ladies” with those heavy bags in exchange for some money for supper? (Let me stop here and say, should my loving family be reading this, that neither of us felt the least bit threatened. We were in a well-lit area with help, should we need it, at hand.)
We were putting something in Streetwise’s hands when the moment turned Providential before our eyes. In the middle of what seemed a time-tested routine of well-honed smack, Streetwise became someone else entirely. His voice lost it’s gaiety and turned forceful, authoritative. His eyes nailed ours in a fierce glare and I could not look away, nor do I remember considering it. “SLOW DOWN,” he said, once, and then twice, “SLOW DOWN and pay attention. “Watch the road. Keep your eyes open. You may be awake and you may think you’re paying attention but you have to watch out for the other people who aren’t.” And then, if I remember correctly, he reiterated, “SLOW DOWN.”
Afterwards, once both of us had been able to process the moment, River and I agreed that Streetwise had been sent to us on a mission. The passionate warning was no different in message than what we’ve heard from readers and loved ones, (and those who are both), but it cut thru the clutter in a way no warning has ever broken thru for me before. Maybe River and I would have made it thru those mountain passes to continue to do what God has called us to do. Maybe not. But, this I know. Because of God’s providential love and one fiery-eyed homeless man on the streets of Chattanooga I was able to see what I may very well have missed.