In a world gone so heavy, with heads slung low in sorrowful sympathy, could it be that sometimes we need the glad knowing of each other’s happiness to swell our own hearts with joy?

There are times so mournful we’re flat out pounding our fists into the planks as we pray for our sisters suffering injustice, our brothers shuddering off shame.  Hurricanes howl and fire runs wild and mud slides and we stand mute in the face of so much pain.  Doesn’t seem right, does it, to turn your face towards a bright tomorrow when she didn’t reach today, when he was handed that diagnosis yesterday.

Sometimes we fear to speak of our own quiet pleasures lest we seem insensitive to others’ pain.

And yet. And yet!

He who created the clouds also silvered in those shiny linings. Mountains may quake but others take our breath away with their beauty. Beloveds die but babies we only believed could someday be fill mamas’ arms with bliss.

What a gift, this – the capacity to feel giddy joy for the gladness of another!

Perched at my computer, I am elated to read of a nephew hired for the perfect job, a fellow pastor welcomed into a denomination eager to use his gifts, a longtime friend shouting “Cancer free!’ across the miles. Young adults we cherish have found others who cherish them back. A mom long single shares a beaming photo on Facebook of the godly older man she never thought she’d meet.

“Yes!” I shout, fist pumping, feet tapping a happy dance into the carpet. “Hallelujah!” I cry as their shared joy becomes my own.

So you’ll do that with us, won’t you friends, when I tell you what 2018 is bringing the Rowes?

This is the Monopoly square I always wanted to buy when I was a kid!

Nothing could be finer, I tell you true, than to turn the corner on a dream of decades and know you’re nearly there.

 Nothing could be finer, yes ma’am, than to ask if now’s the time and hear the Father say, “Whyever not now, my child?”

Nothing could be finer than to – wait for it, cue the music – move to Carolina.

I fell in love twice in the 70’s. Once with a studly young man of deep faith and high good humor who became my best friend and has taken me with him into a life of service. Once more with the region of the country we happened upon in our sunshine yellow ’76 Honda Civic while camping coast-to-coast following seminary.

It was Carolina, her northernmost self, and she took our breath away.

“I could live here someday,” said I, standing atop a mountain wreathed in smoke some forty years ago.  “I’ve never been here but it feels like home.”

Taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which will only be 30 minutes from our new home.

“And I’ll live here with you,” said he, gazing at the blue-layered hills. “Not now but someday.”

Forty years poured through hands eager to grasp it all: jobs and babies and learning and people.  Oh the lovely people we’ve been humbled to serve in the coastal communities of New England and the flatlands of the Midwest!  Making a living and making a life.  Loving God and loving His children. Welcoming grandchildren. Discovering a new vocation for the shady side of 65.

And then the 41st year came. Has come. Just arrived, in fact, like that proverbial stork carrying new life bundled in its beak.

And with hearts in hand we’re being beckoned home to a place we’ve rarely been before, those high blue hills we thought would always be for other folk.

Our new hometown

North Carolina.  Why do we love you already when we’ve only courted a few times?

That fragrance you wear – pine with undernotes of mist – why does it remind us of things we’ve yet to learn?

It’s scary to move to a place where we’ve got no kin and the nearest known friends are an hour away.  We’re missing our friends and church at home and we haven’t even left yet.

But maybe there are folks right there in Haywood County in need of friends too. Maybe some young pastor is just waiting for a veteran to show up, roll up his sleeves and say, “Daughter or son, what do you need done?”

Maybe now that we’ll no longer be making a living we’ll bust out with crazy joy just making a life.

View from the deck of Peace Ridge, our new home.

Just read this in Susan Branch’s book “A Fine Romance.”

We only know that Muir said it best:

The mountains are calling, and we must go.