Retirees enjoy living in our mountain community. More than 34 percent of our county’s residents are over 65 years old, compared to 15 percent statewide. What attracts people here reveals deeper desires. My stories illustrate this.

During leaf season, I drove to Hogpen Gap on the Scenic Hwy at dusk. It’s a no-hike, north-facing view that includes Georgia’s highest peak, Brasstown Bald, ten miles away. The sky and forest blazed with color. The chilly evening air hinted at the next change in seasons.

As much as I enjoy visiting the farmer’s market for locally grown corn and tomatoes, it’s even more pleasant to see people I know. To chat for a moment amidst the eager vendors, aroma of food, and chattering children is to reconnect. That is the magic of the small-town farmer’s market – people connecting with one another, making new friends, and supporting their favorite local producers. It is an expression of community. When someone knows your face, you belong.

I enjoy the outdoors and hike when I can. I hiked to the Vogel Park overlook once when my companions and I were alone on the trail. Same with the Appalachian Trail – I find peace and quiet solitude as I trek through the forest. When I emerge at Blood Mountain, stand on the big rock, and look southward at the Atlanta skyline 70 miles distant, I’m glad the bustling city life is far, far away in that moment.

These experiences reveal something deeper. The mountain vistas touch a yearning for the majestic, beautiful, and ancient.  “Before the mountains were born…from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psa. 90:2). Your desire to be known has its greatest expression in this: “Indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3). Spiritual peace is what you really seek. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world…Earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar agrees. “We see dimly upon the distant mountain peak the reflection of a sun that never rises here, but which shall never set in the new heavens thereafter. It comforts and cheers us on our dark and rugged way.” They’re saying you can experience beauty and majesty far beyond any mountain vista. You can find belonging and community no village can offer. You can receive a peace no quiet walk in the woods can match.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psa. 37:4).