I heard a song, recently, called Sweet Tennessee, by Judah and the Lions. The lyrics made my heart smile.
Sweet Tennessee, land for my bones in history
Sweet Tennessee, find me in your hills and in your stream. Sweet Tennessee, color of my soul in memory
Sweet Tennessee, sweet home Alabama I’ll never sing
Take me where the hills are calling, the fields are made of green. Cause I don’t need some big old city, Lord. Give me Tennessee
Sweet Tennessee, home of my love and family
Sweet Tennessee, God has shed his grace all over thee
As most everyone knows, I was born in Texas, and am Texan to my core. I love the vast, rugged nature of my home state. I love it’s independent spirit. But, what you may not know is that my dad’s family was birthed from the rich soil of the Cole Ridge in Beechgrove, Tennessee, not quite an hour southeast of Nashville. And, well, I love it, too.
Just about every summer of my childhood, my mom and dad packed us up in the station wagon and headed east, bound for my Pa Bart and Mama Erlene’s farm. Those days return to me in gilded memories of glorious, freedom-filled hours of exploration. Cold streams, goat-covered hills, porch swings, and sweet tea, are all as richly flavored in my mind as the ham, biscuits, and red-eye gravy that fueled each day. The slower rhythm of backwoods life cast its spell on my young heart, weaving the wonder of tree-tunneled roads that curve up, up, up, to breathtaking vistas, deep into my bones, like a love song.
What is it about the places that helped build us? For my husband, it’s the corn fields of Iowa, and the small town squares of the Midwest. Maybe, for you, its the smell of Low Country pluff mud that sings you home, or the crash of ocean waves against a rocky shore. Regardless, each piece of unique music is written for us, given to us by its Creator, and ours, too, that, when heard, remind us of who we are, where we’ve been, and, even, perhaps, where we’re going. And, you know what? We don’t listen to it enough.
Not nearly enough.
Pa Bart and Mama Erlene are both gone now, as is most every fixture of those glorious days on Gossburg Road. Still, every year, about this time, that familiar love song begins to play, working its magic on my 55-year-old heart, as easily as it did when I was 10, and, a few years ago, I decided to begin listening. I started packing up Mom and Dad and heading east, for a pilgrimage of sorts, bound for the land that birthed our family, and still holds the beloved generations that followed, each still adding their own notes to the score.
I take us where the hills are calling, the fields are made of green.
See you soon, my sweet, Sweet Tennessee…color of my soul in memory.
All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name. Psalm 66:4 NIV