If anyone follows me on social media, y’all know I am unabashedly in love with Cashiers, North Carolina. We have been going to Highlands and Cashiers since childhood, my grandparents honeymooned in those mountains and I call it “my happy place.” It truly is a happy place for me in all respects.
We Georgia peaches start wilting from the heat each summer and escape when we can to the mountains. For this peach, I love the High Hampton community, having so many friends in that particular part of Cashiers makes it feel “homey” and the old charm of the High Hampton Inn is nostalgic and unparalleled for “old school” mountain style and devotion to a sense of place.
The mountains provide respite indeed, solace from the heat and communal gatherings and celebrations aplenty, but for me, I feel a spiritual awakening there too. Maybe it’s the altitude that diffuses my attitude, but a sense of knowing God and feeling the presence amidst His majestic creation is so palpable and felt truer in the mountains. Being still and knowing … it has a profound regard there in Cashiers and the mountains surrounding the tiny town.
I have grown up the grandson of a Baptist minister (the fourteenth or so in his line and family) and loved my raising in the church. I joke and say that I am a “recovering Baptist” but nonetheless, am proud of my heritage. As I’ve grown in wisdom and stature too, the faith of my fathers has stayed with me, but the faith of my own heart was yearning for a connection to the high church ceremony and liturgy of the Episcopal church. I have found that our lives are increasingly casual – each day devoted to comfort. I personally have found refuge in a bit of pomp and circumstance one day a week – to revert my mind’s casualness and bring me into a higher sense of thinking and worship. It’s not for everyone I know, but leave your soul to wonder as it wanders and you’ll soon know what pew to fill.
Not long after the loss of my grandmother and mother in the same year, my journey from the Baptist church to the Episcopal church began to take shape. The priest at Church of the Good Shepherd in Cashiers became a confidant and dear friend and I even planned her retirement celebration at the church (there’s a fun chapter in A Time to Celebrate about this day.) We began to discuss my official joining of the church and thus my confirmation too. I expressed my desire to be a part of the church and call it my home anytime I was in Cashiers – and until I can buy a house there, this option would be more economical too! Ha!
Time, new books, hectic schedules, her retirement etc prevented my confirmation in the church while she was there. Nevertheless, God’s timing works better than we could plan. In turn, the new priest has become a close friend and confidant and the date for confirmation was set for June 25. My sisters, brother-in-law, Baby Napp and Meredith’s boyfriend joined me for a weekend in the mountains to celebrate our faith and time together. Dear friends hosted a lovely dinner party for us, and another couple of close friends hosted a luncheon too.
The weekend could not have been more wonderful. The weather was outstanding, the timing absolutely perfect and the opportunity for my sisters to meet so many of my friends and “mountain family” was truly special and memorable. I did not need any formal confirmation that Cashiers is a special place to me personally or spiritually, but a formal confirmation into the church there dotted the Is and crossed the Ts. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous leaving the only church and denomination I have ever known, but good guidance, encouragement, faith and even signs confirmed the process along the way. After the service, Father Rob and I stood side by side for a photo. He lifted his robe to reveal his seersucker pants – I having on a seersucker suit. He just smiled and said, “I wore these just in case you needed a little more confirmation today.”