Hiking to Mordor

Summer rainstorms are vastly underrated.

I’ve never been more sure of this fact than on Monday, when Danielle and I decided to go on an outdoor adventure despite weather forecasts that looked less than promising. It was Memorial Day, we had the afternoon off, and we were not about to let the opportunity pass, especially after suffering through our first practice GRE test and watching Janie Townsend valiantly battle a giant cockroach on the living room floor. (Seriously, it was an inspiring thing to watch.)

Our destination of choice was Greeter Falls in Grundy County, which, if you’re familiar with rural Tennessee, is located in the absolute middle of nowhere about an hour and a half southeast of Nashville. We talked religion and baristas and farmers along the way, and I was reminded why I’m lucky to call Danielle my hip, theology-loving, overalls-wearing best friend. After all, it isn’t always easy to find someone who’s willing to trek to a waterfall with you in a thunderstorm – but more on that later.

From the parking area, it was a 0.5 mile hike-stroll to the waterfall itself. The water was freezing cold and lovely, and we ended up making new friends and climbing back and forth up the falls three separate times to get a decent picture. The rain came later, and it made the whole day feel a lot more like an episode of Man vs. Wild than a casual afternoon swim. Danielle mentioned that this was the most “Washington thing” she’s done in a while, and for a Southerner like myself, that translates to COLD.

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We took advantage of the rainy weather and relative lack of people on the trails to hike to Boardtree Falls, located nearby. Danielle and I passed the time pretending we were hobbits making the treacherous journey to Mordor in the cold and freezing rain. (I mean, come on, how ridiculously dorky can you get? It was wonderful.) We weren’t completely sure where the trail led or how far we were going, but that made the whole experience all the better.

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There is something so raw and beautiful and marvelous about standing outside in the middle of a rainstorm and just embracing it for what it is. First-worlders shield ourselves from the elements so often, cranking up the A/C and sitting indoors when the weather is too hot, cold, or humid for our liking. I’ll admit I’m guilty of this too. But being there in the complete quiet of the forest with the rain bringing life and sustenance to everything around us, it is remarkably easy to see God’s handiwork and feel completely wrapped up in it. If you have never hiked in a thunderstorm, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss.

We ended our day by scarfing down the BEST SOUP EVER from Taco Mamacita and watching (yes, I’m admitting this) the Kimye wedding special. WARNING: I don’t recommend this, as Danielle later had a dream that she and Kanye were being forced into marriage against her will. But that’s her own story to tell.

Blessings,

Sarah

Beginnings & Endings (and a note about uncertainty)

Hello friends!

You guessed it- this is my official introduction into the blogging world, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll get the hang of it before long. With summertime upon us, the extra hours of sleep and sunshine tend to bring out my reflective side, so I’m starting this blog as an opportunity to share thoughts on life, faith, funny stories, and everything in between. Plus, I’ve always been more of an academic writer than a casual storyteller, so this gives me an outlet to step outside my comfort zone and explore a whole different type of creative expression. Here’s hoping I learn lots and write something worth sharing.

Introductions aside, I want to start off by talking about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately- the fact that junior year is over and adult life is getting closer than many of us would like to acknowledge. I was laughing with friends last week about how quickly time has flown since freshman year and how thankful I am that I’ve become a lot cooler than I was three years ago (or at least that’s what I’d like to hope). Graduate school research and applications are becoming a reality, and it’s exciting and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. Classmates are talking about senior year, graduation, and the fact that one year from now many of us will say goodbye to each other for the last time.

Hang on…what?

I’d be lying if I said that the thought of leaving this place didn’t frighten me to my very core. It’s easy to stay wrapped up in what people call the “college bubble” of classes, student organizations, friends, and generally avoiding actual adult responsibilities. And at least on my end, I tend to feel like things aren’t going to change anytime soon. But lately I’ve been starting to wonder about what life will be like without my Hillside apartment, afternoons in the Beaman, and frequent trips to Hipster Central aka Bongo, where I’m typically wearing a monogram and feeling rather out of my element.

Like I mentioned earlier, I always get contemplative around this time of year, and the past several months have been somewhat of an adventure in accepting the reality of uncertainty. I’m a planner, someone who would be perfectly content to iron out the details before they occur and not constantly wonder about how things are going to turn out. But if junior year has taught me anything, it’s that God delights in surprises and that no matter how many brightly colored agendas we keep, we cannot possibly plan our lives. Often the most beautiful stories play out precisely opposite of our predictions, and we end up being undeniably thankful that our own silly plans failed so miserably. Lean not on your own understanding, Proverbs tells us, for we serve a Creator that rejoices in the unplanned intricacies of our unexpected lives. So next time you’re wondering whether you’ll find something meaningful to do after graduation, take a deep breath and remember the last time things didn’t go according to plan. You made it this far, right? Let’s embrace uncertainty as a sign that life is messy and beautiful and REAL.

On similar note, I want to take a minute to thank everyone who made my junior year so special. This was a school year full of my highest highs and lowest lows, and I have learned more about myself than I thought possible in a matter of short months. To those who encouraged me to seek a deeper relationship with Christ, thank you. To those who taught me that spontaneous trips to Cookout can be a much-needed stress reliever, thank you. To those who encouraged me to keep going when I felt completely lost and without direction, thank you. To those who didn’t laugh when I bought two crop tops and a fake nose ring, thank you. To those who loved me when I didn’t deserve it, thank you. You have left an impact on me that runs much deeper than memories of trips to Starbucks and Hilary Duff sing-a-longs (c’mon though- Why Not is a classic).

I love you all! Here’s to one more year of college, new beginnings, and a future that is beautifully imperfect, exciting, and unknown.

Blessings,

Sarah