The rock of ages
By A. Ray Lee
On cool autumn mornings, I often welcome the day from my patio. The heat of summer has passed and signs of the changing seasons are visible. The bright colors of autumn leaves are fading and as they fall are scattered around the yard by the wind. Soon they will need to be mulched or raked and carted away.
The crows are visiting most every morning in competition with blue jays to search the barren pecan trees for the few nuts which have survived the hot days of July and August. However, acorns are plentiful, and scouring squirrels stay busy burying them for the cold days of winter. My hummingbird feeder is now untouched as the nimble flyers have migrated. These are annual changes in nature that vary little from year to year as the seasons revolve.
I do not travel far from Lee acres anymore, but memories abound of trips from the past. The signs of autumn remind me of the many years in October when Effie and I visited with dear friends Francis and Helen Luce at their Milfern Lodge in Crossnore, North Carolina.
For years Crossnore was visited less than other areas of the Smoky Mountains and retained its native characteristics, but over time we watched as many changes were made to the landscape as enterprising individuals and companies brought in tourist attractions. Some of the forests were cleared to make way for housing developments for summer visitors and pricy retirement homes. With the influx of “outsiders” outnumbering the locals much of its cultural values and heritages were replaced.
But a few things remained unchanged. Grandfather Mountain still stands immovable as a massive stone with little change from the day of creation as it towers high above all and is visible for miles in every direction. A single switchback road grants access to its summit. Much of the mountain has not been scared and blemished by the machines of progress thanks to the visionary spirit of the Morton family. Our visits always included a trip to the top and a stop on the way down at Mildred’s Grill and the museum adjacent to the Animal Habitat where the famous bear enthralled multitudes over her long life.
On Sundays, we worshipped in the beautiful Crossnore Presbyterian Church built out of native stone from the Linville River in 1924. It solidly stands as a testimony of faith upon an unfailing rock foundation.
It is good to know that in a chaotic world there are some things that remain unchanging. Jesus taught there is a Rock against which hell itself shall not prevail. It remains the foundation upon which an enduring life is built (See Matthew 7:24-27). “Rock of ages cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee.”