My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 32:18
My family and I recently helmeted up, refreshed our water bottles, and hit the trails: the wooded trails, outstretched bridges, and intersecting pathways of our very own hometown. While some may prefer the lights, sounds, and bustle of a larger, busier city, today I’m thankful for life and love and liberty in a small Southern town. Small Town, USA is the only town my children know… “born and bred” as the local farmers and horse breeders might say. We’ve traveled and stayed and seen and felt bigger, more populated and sophisticated venues, but there’s nothing quite like the fit and feel of our small Southern town. Well…maybe it isn’t exactly small. We do have four Walmarts and eight Starbucks. Eight! People around here like their coffee. 🙂 So maybe I’m actually thankful for the blessing of living in a medium-sized town, or using Starbucks terminology, grande-town, USA. But the feel is the same: warm, inviting, friendly…always somewhere to go, something to do, someone to see.
The flag still flies high at the town square. Benches are scattered, welcoming and offering rest. A bible sits encased, open, inviting. There’s a city cafe, a coffee shop, a hardware store. A very traditional, welcoming, historical area rejuvenated by small business and specialty shops, it still hosts jazz festivals, farmers’ markets, and various community activities. We biked right up to the local ice cream shop and enjoyed cold homemade treats as we sat outside, watching the traffic lights turn and neighbors stroll by. We explored the sidewalks and storefronts: window shopping, talking to fellow sojourners, and admiring history and the beauty of the sun setting over our quiet little town. Statues, monuments, and other historical markers dot the square and provide admiration and recollection of the history and privilege offered to our generation from those who lived, fought, and died before us. Did I mention it’s a Civil War town? Constantly changing and growing, it is progressive and contemporary, offering adult and family activities, shopping, and restaurants, yet quaint and comfortable enough that we still run into friends when we’re out on the town. It is steeped in history, agriculture, education, and great economic development, but also strife, sickness, and civil war. It is both small but large, new but old.
The final trail in our journey led us through the Stones River Battlefield where our footsteps and tire tracks retraced the steps and the lives of soldiers, generals, and giants. Larger than pages from a history book, we heard the very echoes of history and smelled the gunpowder signaling strife and division as the cannons fired in reenactment of the tragic battles. I won’t lie… My eyes were misty and my heart heavy as the smoke cleared and the echoes faded. Such a strange combination of pride, sadness, relief, and thankfulness. From the carefree refreshment of bike trails and ice cream to the heaviness of reflection at the tales of war, it’s still home.
Yes, I’m thankful to be a part of small town life, work, and worship; but I’m also thankful to be connected to the big world of others living and loving through thankfulness at http://www.marshasmusings.com. Come visit and give thanks. 🙂