North Carolina is full of rocking chairs and a Mayberry-esque lifestyle. There are rocking chairs in the airports, and there are rocking chairs in the restaurants. In the restaurants, people! I ain’t making this stuff up.
I want to live there. I want to drink more sweet tea and say “y’all” and “honey, sugar” to strangers and call my friends “Sweet Potato” and rock on a front porch as the rain patters down. I want to live in Blue Ridge.
Unfortunately, Blue Ridge is an event, not a place. Well, it’s both, but when it’s not an event, it can get kind of lonely. Kind of, this-hallway-belongs-in-Stephen-King’s-The-Shining lonely (thanks for that thought process, Beckie).
Which could be pretty hard on This Girl who fills the love-tank with social interaction. I do not care (said with my newly adopted Southe’n accent) I do not care if you are male, female, black, white, cat, dog (scratch that. I care. I don’t like dogs). . . my point is, people is people, people! And when you’re in a place surrounded not only by people, but by people who understand, who help, who encourage, who laugh, cry, scream, giggle, play games, eat dinner . . . People who get you. . . how can it not be home?
In my life, I have felt alone, abandoned, worthless, a failure, confused, out of place, neglected, misunderstood, incomplete.
When I set foot on Ridgecrest, those insecurities left me. Completely, for six whole days, I was pushed smack-dab into what I can only describe as an immersion program for Christian writers.
Attending Blue Ridge wasn’t about making new friends.
It was about finding family I didn’t know I had.
Is it no surprise how I cried from loneliness when the plane landed in Las Vegas? Or when I thought of Sweet Cara and how it will be a year before I see my new sister again? Or (better), when I claim my place into this family of God’s children?
I’m sitting in my recliner at Bedford Manor now. Everything’s the way I left it. The cats are dozing. The house is quiet. But my soul is restless.
I long to go back to Blue Ridge. To find my own little parcel of land and put a rocking chair on it and say, “This is mine! This corner of the world, these people, this experience. . . This is mine.”
But I also long to stay here. To work at making Bedford Manor my home for as long as the Lord wants me to. I’m ready to get moving for the Lord, but that doesn’t mean I have to move.
In fact, through Blue Ridge, He has called me to be a spring in the desert. [Isaiah 43:19]. And I’m ready to do that, because that’s what He’s asking.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
[Isaiah 43:19, NRSV]
I imagine as the days take me further from my first Blue Ridge experience, this painful longing to go back will lesson, but only for a short time. Because then I’ll be filled with the drive to return next year, and this desire will push me to do all I can to accomplish that goal. I’ll work harder than I have at becoming the writer and speaker He has made me to be.
I’m okay with this kind of pain: The pain that pushes me forward, the longing that makes me reach beyond myself.
I am not perfect. But at Blue Ridge, I am perfectly me.
I can’t wait to go back, and move forward.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!