Meditation Point


A few weeks ago I found a path to a wonderful point just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I decided to sit a spell.  The Fast-Life most people live could take a break at this point and do some good. They might breathe in, breathe out. And more.

I prefer to fill the mind when I meditate. To begin with, nothing complicated. Just simple & true. A little something to chew on. And be nourished by. A verse. A lyric. A sacred theme. A remembered prayer. Bring it in. Relax it out. And maybe more.

Today a sacred text about a promised future came to mind.

the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Youthful exuberance on the right. “Wait for the leaves, little guy.”

Some masters of meditation, Buddhists, Brahmin, and Taoists, teach us to go beyond thought and image, beyond the senses and the rational mind to meditate most deeply, and achieve higher consciousness. I’m not a meditation master but, respectfully, I have a different view.

For lo, the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind,
reveals his thoughts to mortals,…

Ah yes, that’s what I am, a master of mortality. Yet as I see His mountains. And feel His wind. And maybe, just maybe hear His voice. And, God help me, dare to think His immortal thoughts, thoughts about the promise of recovery, restoration, reunion, new creation, I burst into song too!

To do otherwise would be to miss the point. This beautiful, wonderful point.


A first principle of spirituality is this: we become like what we worship. Worshiping the Creator (not the creation) is how we become genuinely human. The Jewish-Christian story says we are created in God’s image. And are to be His image bearers. His angled mirrors. Reflecting who He is to the world. That’s a high calling. You seek significance? Believe this and you’ve found it. I believe at our best we are points of reflected light. (Not the source of light.) And together we may become luminous.

So it pays to sit a spell. Alone sometimes. Like here at Meditation Point. And also together, in sacred space. To worship. And recharge for the journey. Then more.

I think that is the divine path to enlightenment. The Way.

A master of meditation, Gautama Buddha, and his followers, made a significant undeniable contribution to world culture. But about this point they got it wrong. They do not believe the God of gods is the Creator. Or for that matter that creation is good. To them all existence—birth, decay, sickness, and death—is suffering. Nirvana, freedom from suffering, can only be achieved by a cessation of selfish craving. Which to them meant all craving. Achieving Nirvana required a thousand life times or more. Chained as we are to the wheel of rebirth. Awareness of the restless suffering, impermanence and emptiness of human existence starts you on the path to spiritual liberation. (If you are a Buddhist.) Because of these Truths, Buddha and his followers seek Un-Creation. The ending of the self. Like a drop of water falling into the sea. It turns out Lord Buddha is also a master of extinction.

My religious tradition tells a different story. God through Christ, His Son, is destined to restore creation, putting an end to the suffering of His people, this planet, this Cosmos. Enlightened persons won’t dissolve into a glistening sea of universal sameness. No. God will make creation new again in all of its glorious, richly differentiated, kaleidoscopic, unity. (Suggestion: if you expect to wrap your brain around that last sentence it helps to be Trinitarian: which is to say, at the center of everything is Unity and Diversity coexisting, the One and the Many, Group and Individual equally valued, One God, Three Persons in Loving Community. At the heart of everything. Before there was any created thing. It helps.)

Our part in this story? We begin by thinking God’s thoughts after Him. For amazingly He may be known, not fully but truly, here and now. It begins with what we see and feel and hear and taste and smell. If we are attentive. If we sit a spell.

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things that have been made.

That is the point of Meditation Point. To know our Creator. Worship. Recharge. And then, to make Him known. By, among other things, alleviating suffering where we can. A down payment of future reality.

Yes, Gautama Buddha, real suffering exists. I know it. More today than yesterday. Birds of prey swoop down into the valley below. Red in beak and claw. And the good creation groans. But the wind whispers that a new day on earth is coming when a great song will be sung, by an unlikely choir, and the trees young and old will clap wildly, as old hostilities and fears dissipate, and the wolf lies down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6-9).


A day earlier the fifty mile per hour winds streaming across the valleys and hollers of Allegheny county would have pushed me off my perch. But today the wind was gentle. And the fresh green smell of spring lifted up from the valley below. You could almost taste it. Leaf and blade and bud and blossom cast a Spirit spell as I sat, saw, felt, breathed, remembered, listened, and worshiped.


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Catch a Falling Rock

A meteorite is a hot rock from space. Well it’s not hot until it meets the friction of our outer atmospheric rim. But when it falls you notice. Seen for hundreds of miles. A cold rock from good ole terra firma? Unless you are in its path, you’re unlikely to notice.

Over a year ago, Susan and I noticed. We were walking back to our car from Fox Hunters Paradise.

Fox Hunters Paradise Walkway

His name was Peter. He looked old. After hearing his story I wondered how long since he hadn’t looked old. I could tell his body had been on some thing. Not recently. But habitually. Some fuel that shoots you rocket like to the moon but burns out way, way before you reach the inescapable bliss of zero gravity. And eats out your teeth.

He was sitting on the guardrail with his eyes fixed on Lowgap below, when I decided to say hello.

He was unsteady. But talkative. And smart. He told me he ran a successful business once. Long ago. And that he still had money. [Translation: I’m not looking for a handout.].

Our Meeting Place

Let me change the image. Some people are born with a hole in their bucket. Others given buckets with no bottom. Some punch out their own holes. Hearing him talk so freely about his former life, Peter struck me as the latter. And by the look of his car, he was about drained out. Scarred from headlight to tail-light on the passenger side. Thank God for Parkway guardrails.

After telling me his prostitute girlfriend took him for thousands of dollars, I wondered if she had been a passenger on the day he rode the rail. I didn’t ask.

Guardrail Catcher

The hard truth? The evil gods of this world had not conspired against Peter. They consorted, cooperated with him on his downward descent. He wanted to believe their rocket fuel lies. An exhilarating ride had expanded expectations. But at bottom it burned him up and out.

One song writer thinking of the original couple put it like this:

They had the sun by day.

The moon by night.

Feet of clay, and an inner light.

They had everything. It was meant for their good.

But they threw it away.

They threw it away.

Did this accurately describe Peter? Hard to say for certain. He had brains and a good education. I think it did.

He mentioned a support group near Winston-Salem. Good Christian people. And how he’d come up the mountain to hear from God.

I seized the moment and said: “God doesn’t want you to commit suicide, Peter.” He kept looking out toward Lowgap. But his look wavered and I got the impression I surprised him.

“My wife and I noticed your car,” I explained.

“Oh yea, that obvious?”

“You are a Christian, right?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Then you should know, Death is not our friend, but our enemy. The last enemy to be destroyed,” said St. Paul (1 Cor 15:25-26)1Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.. He nodded, still looking down at Lowgap.

“My wife has been fighting stage four cancer five years now. Do you think God would be happy with us if we cooperated with the enemy, colluded with Death? We fight it!” [Right now Peter needed straight-talk, not empathy]

“You should go back to the support group at that Church. And hang out for a long time. Even if it means you never see your ‘girlfriend’ again. You can’t help her anymore. And she certainly doesn’t help you. You will pray she gets help. But it can’t be you.”

“I, I guess I just need to hear from God about what to do,” he said.

“You just did.”

It had been a while, but he took his eyes off Lowgap and glanced my way. After about 3 slow beats, he nodded again. I shook his hand and promised Susan and I would pray for him.

On a clear day you could see Winston-Salem from where Peter was sitting. But that day was just too cloudy. I don’t know if he saw his way back to the Winston-Salem support group.

I’ve often wondered about the long road of recovery he needed to travel. My hope is he stayed between the guardrails and got safely off the mountain.


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Fox Hunters Paradise

About six miles from our place, the closest Blue Ridge Parkway point of interest is Fox Hunters Paradise. You can see why (minus the childish graffiti). Susan’s sister has some memorable moments with her at this spot. Me too.

Looking For Foxes

Just below this vantage point your first landing zone, assuming a really good running start, is the Low Gap Community.  Should you get that far they’ll be sure to patch you up and send you on your way.  They’re nice folks.

Of course you could skip the thrill and the neighborly patchwork if you follow the road down into the valley. Your call.

A little further out Highway 89 on the left, you’ll find Mount Airy. That would be “Mayberry” to Andy Griffith fans. On the horizon, Hanging Rock State Park (center left) and then a Barney Fife favorite, Mount Pilot (center right). In this photo you can barely make out the Pilot Knob. I’ll give you a closer look one day.

The Far Horizon – Hanging Rock – Pilot Mountain

At this altitude, a few weeks ago, Spring had just begun….

Spring Right
Spring Left & Fisher Mountain

Some days you’ll spot a nuthatch upside down on the trunk of a white oak searching the scabby bark for morsels. But nuthatch or no, every day is feast day at Fox Hunter’s Paradise for all God’s creatures, great and small.

God’s World


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