Getting to Beautiful Places

Getting to Beautiful Places

In our summer attempts to refresh the weary soul, we often vacation in the most peaceful, beautiful places we can find.

I vote for the simplicity of the little town that time forgot, Sewanee (nearby us in Nashville), and its mountains that bring the great Appalachian chain to an end.

I also love the Great Smokies, but on the North Carolina side rather than the Tennessee side due to the commercialization of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The Inn at Biltmore seems to be the place that frames the mountains just right, with a porch view and a rocking chair and some fresh blueberries and a good book.

I have nothing against towns in particular, but my soul needs something besides concrete and stores for renewal.

It strikes me that wherever you find a beautiful place, it eventually gets paved. I miss the simple places. I miss the beauty of undisturbed nature. I miss the places that restore the soul. Maybe it’s aging, maybe it’s wisdom, maybe it’s my memory—but I suspect it may be the Pope.

Pope Francis released last week an Encyclical Letter to all Catholics on the care of our common home. I read his 92-page call to a better stewardship of the world we live in.

I appreciate his eschatology (theology of ending). Rather than siding with the folk who believe the earth is ours to use up and trash since we’re going to be raptured to somewhere else, he holds a very Biblical theology that the earth groans for its redemption at a moment of final glory (Romans 8:18-25), that the New Jerusalem is coming down (Rev. 21), and that the future home of God will be among mortals in a creation with all things made new.

If this is true, and I believe it is, then we are God’s partners in the care-taking and renewal of that which is being destroyed.

So when you find yourself in a beautiful place this summer, take a moment to read a wonderful call to a common concern for our common home. You can read the Pope’s entire letter here.


  1. JoNell Shelby says

    I imagine this post will ruffle some feathers but I believe you are right and I agree wholeheartedly.

  2. Very often, Jim and I go up the back mountain road to Sewanee, read in the university library, pray in All Saints Chapel, then walk from the campus to the Blue Chair Cafe, our “coffee spot.” We like the coffee, and love supporting “Blue Monarch,” the rehabilitation program for women that some of the profits from the cafe help to make possible. This has long been one of our favorite spots, and this post is one of your most memorable!

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