Last fall I was helping park cars at The Hickory Nut Gorge Outreach event. Vendors come to Lake Lure from the Southeast selling their wares, and our community raises money for those who are going through a tough time. My job was to greet the people, encourage them to make a donation for the outreach and direct them to their parking space.

As one car approached with the wife behind the wheel, I greeted her husband with “Brian, where have you been?” I had never laid eyes on these folks before, but apparently had hit the nail on the head as Brian sheepishly said, “what do you mean?” His wife, less amused, was getting ready to give him a good jab in the ribs when I burst out laughing. They had just been to a family reunion and after his third helping of peach cobbler, he had forgotten to remove his “Hello, I am Brian” nametag.

We had a good laugh and they went on their way. And here you are, and I will ask the same question. “Where have you been this last year?” Seriously, how has your year been going? We know that many of you are as faithful as the swallows in Capistrano about returning to this beautiful gorge year after year. And for some, this is your first visit, although we hope it will not be your last. Was your year happy, prosperous, no big shakes, just normal, healthy, scary? So many adjectives could describe our year as life can have many twists and turns, even daily.

I read a story recently about a grandfather holding his first grandchild in a hospital where just the year before to the day he had been recovering from a major heart attack. Reflecting on his year that had many uneasy moments with various health and family issues, he had stated the obvious…”What a difference a year makes.”

Soren Kierkegaard said “Life can only be understood backwards but it has to be lived forward.” As you are here, enjoy the refreshing waters and maybe spending a few minutes reflecting on your life’s journey. Welcome to all our summer visitor’s and new friends.