After several months of looking after my mom after her heart attack and onset of Dementia, she recently went into an assisted living facility where I visit her everyday. Having her someplace where she could socialize and have the constant help she needed was a weight off my shoulders. However, I suddenly felt like I needed to get away before school starts, so I could feel truly refreshed before facing so many teenagers again. I identified with Psalm 55:6, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” Subsequently, my husband and I went to the Ozarks last week, specifically Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
I had not been to Eureka Springs in over twenty years, and I forgot how both beautiful and transformative it is. Located close to Branson, Missouri but within the border of Arkansas, this sleepy hamlet sits high in the hills and necessitates going up some pretty curvy highways with beautiful scenery along the way.
Once we arrived, we visited Quigley Castle, known as “the strangest dwelling of the Ozarks” because the woman who built it with her husband incorporated nature into it anyway that she could, creating bricks from stones and shells she’d collected since she was a girl and installing 38 windows to allow lots of light to come in for the plants that were actually planted in open ground along the inside margins of the house. My favorite parts are the butterfly wall and the gardens outside. It’s a very peaceful place out in the country, and I could’ve easily stayed all day, watching the butterflies sipping nectar from the abundant flowers.
Later that day, we visited the Christ of the Ozarks statue which is 67 feet tall and 65 feet wide. The sun was perfectly positioned to provide a halo. Again, my husband and I were able to sit and enjoy some quiet and solitude. The only sound was the singing of the cicadas in the surrounding evergreens.
That evening, we attended the Great Passion Play, an outdoor re-enactment of the final days of Jesus, and it was amazing. If you ever go to the Ozarks, you really must attend. There are dozens of actors as well as sheep, camels, donkeys, horses, etc. The lighting and sound effects were excellent, and I got to see some old friends I’d missed…fireflies. They’re pretty scarce in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
We also visited Cosmic Cavern, Turpentine Creek Big Cat Refuge, and Beaver Lake. All of these places reminded me of how truly great and wondrous God is in providing so much beauty and diversity around us that we take for granted.
I’m so thankful that we made the decision to drive up into the hills for a vacation. It’s important to make time to recharge our batteries. God gave us an example of this by resting on the seventh day after he created the universe. He didn’t need a rest, but he modeled it for us. In the same way, Jesus took a break from the crowds with his disciples to go to a “quiet place” to “get some rest”. (Mark 6:31). If we don’t care for ourselves, how can we care for others and dedicate ourselves to our purpose? Now that I’ve had a break, I know that I can face whatever tribulations may be coming my way and can say that it is truly well with my soul.