Night Walk at Vogel

Night Walk at Vogel

posted in Blog, Creation, Design, Travel | Monday, July 5th, 2010

I went for a walk tonight. About ten o’clock, the loosely observed curfew time at Vogel State Park. I’ve been coming here since I was a small child – forty-something years now. For many summers we made the annual trek from South Florida and now it’s only a two hour drive from our home in Atlanta. But still …. it’s a world away.

I descended the stairs from our cabin on the hill, in no hurry to be anywhere. The sky was clear, the temp was in the 60’s and there was nowhere else where I would have rather been. Through the trees, across the picnic area, and over the covered walkway bridge that crossed the lamp lit creek. Cabin windows glowed with warm light and laughter tumbled down the hill from cottages filled with families and friends. Other than that, and the occasional car winding through the mountains above, the night was quiet.

Vogel rests in a narrow valley, hidden in the North Georgia mountains. Roughly speaking, one end of the valley houses (or “tents”) fortunate fellow visitors and the other end is occupied by a man-made, creek-filled lake that exits the park in a beautiful waterfall. Mom and Dad are staying this week in the only cabin that is directly on the water of the lake. They have a small, deck style dock right in front of their place and that’s where I was headed, even though I knew my parents were out at the time. With family and friends filling half the cabins in the park, it would still be a while before everyone was redistributed back to the places where they were staying. Game playing. Story telling. There are certain priorities here.

As I passed the swimming area and proceeded down the dark, tree covered road that skirted the lake, I became aware of the rather loud and constant conversation of the toads and frogs around the glass-still body of water. One’s eyes could never reveal the population of these deep-throated amphibians – only one’s ears.

As I reached the dock, I stood and listened to these unseen locals as they spoke to each other from nearby and faraway. My eyes were slowly adjusting to the darkness as I stood peering at the silhouette of the mountains against the sky above and the lake below.

It was then that I noticed the light show. Right in front of me and to either side, lightning bugs were sharing their magical gift like individual, slowly-blinking Christmas lights hung randomly in the dark. A few of them, overhead, shot across the lake at a speed that seemed too fast for fireflies. Unlike the frogs, they were completely quiet – showing themselves first here, then there.

Fire-breathing dragons are the fodder of medieval fairy tales, but think about it – are insects whose bodies turn into light bulbs any less amazing? No rechargeable batteries. No extension cords to electrical outlets. No tiny little bug brains that figured out and implemented the system on their own. An incredible design feature, not given to regal giraffes or powerful lions, but to itty-bitty, short-lived insects. Little flying flashlights that make young children laugh and smile and run around. And I bet that makes God smile and laugh as well.

With these little flash bulbs going off around me in three-dimensional space, I noticed the similarity in look and size to the stars filling the deep canopy of the universe above me. Bright burning suns, far larger than our planet, so far away that they appear as frozen little fireflies lighting the whole of heaven. Then, as I stood gazing and pondering the magnificence of it all, I noticed the “moving stars”, the distant lights from airplanes crisscrossing the mid-heavens. Far more of them than I expected. Probably because they are only minutes away from the air travel hub of Atlanta in “airplane time”. Massive chunks of metal slipping silently through the sky, reduced from here to small specs of light. Gravity, aerodynamics, astrophysics, luminescence and a million other finely crafted systems on grand display for anyone who will simply stop and pay attention.

I think of the words of a couple guys that lived a long time ago. One said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” The other said, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” I know those guys never saw an airplane, but all the same, I think they saw what I saw.

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