Sunset over the NC Smokies from Newfound Gap. 
Great Smoky Mountains National Park 
© 2014 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved
I was able to make space in my schedule to get away to the Smokies yesterday. My primary purpose was to stop at Sugarlands VC, Park Headquarters, and Oconaluftee VC to meet up with key individuals who have been such a blessing to me this year. I just wanted to say thank you to a dedicated group of GSMNP and GSMA staffers who were there for me when I needed a smile, an encouraging word, a hug, or a great opportunity to do something new. I went bearing gifts of homemade eggnog pound cake and it was so much fun! It just felt good to give back, to be grateful, and to think about someone besides myself.

The highlight of the day was spending time with Coralie, the person responsible for the park Facebook page that I have worked with all year. Coralie is such a great lady. When I was stressed out over my family issues this summer, Coralie gladly listened to me and helped me keep it all in perspective. I especially wanted to say thank you to her and I knew just how to do it -- knitter to knitter. I recently blocked a beautiful lace shawl that I knit earlier in the year. As I was pinning out the damp shawl I felt impressed to give it to Coralie. I don't give away my shawls to just anyone, but I knew this one was not mine to keep. Watching the delight in her eyes as she admired the shawl, then put it on -- it was the best thing, ever! My Christmas feels complete already.

As I drove through the park, I listened to a favorite recording of Handel's Messiah. It seemed fitting to hear the words of Isaiah sing out as I climbed to Newfound Gap, then descended into Cherokee, NC. Watching the sunset, first from Webb Overlook, then later at Newfound Gap was the perfect ending to a healing day. My sinking spirits were exalted as I felt the warm embrace of the Spirit standing on a cold mountain top at the last light of day. It was perfection.


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