Wednesday, July 6, 2022

For Such A Time As This

When I was in the first grade, my teacher used to hand out pieces of manila art paper for us to draw pictures on. Some times what was drawn was specific to a lesson, but very often we were given the freedom to draw anything we wanted.

My pictures often included many of the same things, my family, pets, my friends, flowers, our home. But there was one element that was almost always included that puzzled my teacher and my mother alike, snow capped mountains. They stood majestic in the background of almost every picture I drew, so often that my teacher once asked how long I had lived in Texas (I was born there and at the time, had never lived anywhere else), or if I had family that lived in the mountains (I did not). She was so puzzled by the frequency of my including them that I recall her even pointing them out and asking my mom about it when we went for open house that year. My mother explained she was just as perflexed as she was, as at six years of age the furthest I had been from home was Oklahoma, and there were certainly no mountains between our home and there.  After that my mom would frequently comment asking why I kept drawing mountains. I’m not sure what my answer was, why I drew them or where I had even seen them, all I remember is that I loved them and longed for them even then.

Fast forward a few years to a Saturday afternoon when I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. My dad was watching The Wide World of Sports, as he did most Saturdays, and I can vividy recall sitting on the floor in the same room doing homework. I looked up at a commercial for a car, which I am now convinced was filmed driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was in the fall, and when the car passed down the road the leaves danced behind it. I was mesmorized and remember looking up at my dad and saying, “Some day I’m going to live where the leaves dance behind your car.” My mother tried to explain it away, telling me there was probably someone on the side of the road with a bag full of leaves that they threw behind the car, but I wasn’t convinced. Thirty years later I would take a drive on the parkway myself, as I have many times now, and I can attest to the fact that the leaves do often dance behind your car. No props needed.

The first time I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia deep inside me I knew that I was home. All those tender young years before when for no apparent reason I wanted to include mountains in my drawings, and to live where the leaves danced behind your car, I see now as the hand of God, instilling those dreams and desires into my heart to lead me here. 

A few years ago I traced my father’s family back to Germany, where their last name was spelled Hutzel. Johann George Hutzel, immigrated from Germany and settled in Frederick, Maryland in 1739. His son, Ludwig Lewis Hutzel, later settled in Wythe County, VA. Ludwig was my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather. So my moving back to Virginia in 2001, was, in a way, returning to our family’s roots.

On Friday, July 1, we closed on a house on 1.84 acres located in Big Island, VA. Big Island is a “Census Designated Area” located within the boundaries of the George Washington National Forest, it is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though we don’t see as much snow as some mountain regions, the higher elevations are often coated at the top with snow that you can see from the valley below. They look very much like the mountains I drew and dreamed of as a child. And the Blue Ridge Parkway with its dancing leaves? It's less than 10 minutes from our house. 

Everything in my life from the time I was six years old has brought me to and prepared me for this moment. I’ve come full circle, and have never felt more secure, blessed or intentionally placed. The divine hand of God has gently guided me here all these many years, “for such a time as this”, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I rest secure knowing that same gentle hand will continue to guide me, as He has always so faithfully done.