The parson, along with his faithful canine companion, Charlie Brown, decided to skip church. It was a weekday. Hardly anyone would notice. The sky was clear. The temperature was in the mid-seventies. The parson pulled on his hiking boots. Charlie Brown danced about knowing those shoes meant new smells, new adventures.
Up the road they headed, past Carter's Lake and on to Chatsworth, where they turned right to head toward the mountain peak. Up, up the car climbed. Finally, the entrance loomed ahead. The parson entered the park, slowed down and withdrew his yearly pass from the glove compartment. The pass was hung on the rear view mirror. At the gate they took a left to head toward the hiking trail that led around the side of the mountain.
Charlie Brown bounded from the car and then jumped in circles waiting for his leash to be affixed. Once it was the two headed down the wooded path. The wind was at their back, which allowed the two deer just fifty yards from the trail to graze without Charlie Brown becoming aware of their presence. Charlie Brown, was too busy, anyway, trying to pull the ancient parson into a pace that suited his mood.
After awhile, they stopped. The parson faced a choice: Go left and he'd be treated to one of the most beautiful overlooks in North Georgia. Go right and he'd have only a short, but steep, hike to The Wall. The parson pulled his cell phone from his pocket, checked the time, and decided there was no reason why both could not be done.
Turning left Charlie Brown and the parson sought the overlook. It was downhill all the way, with an occasion set of metal stairs along the steep parts. No one was on the observation platform with its magnificent view of the valley below. The parson leaned against the rail and marveled as he always did at the beauty of the place he lived. Charlie Brown stretched out in the sun and within three minutes was snoring.
The view having been appreciated the two turned and headed back the way they'd come, uphill. As they reached the intersection where they'd face the decision they continued uphill. Uphill they went in steady but not rapid pace. Finally they arrived at the wall.
The wall was a marvel to the parson. It stretched for 855 feet, and, if one pulled out a compass one would see that the wall was on a direct path from east to west. Long ago, about the time the Jews were exiled to Babylon, the Native Americans of the middle Woodland Era gathered here on this spot, up high above the valley, and built this wall. Today it was just a row of stones. Over the years people had stolen the stones or pulled down the wall itself in a search for artifacts. But from the vast number of the stones it was obvious the wall had been impressive.
The parson sat on a log to study the wall. Here they'd had church. Here, they'd paid homage to their deity. Here they had perhaps sung their equivalent of hymns, heard their version of sermons, offered their prayers and sought the favor and blessings of the gods. In his mind's eye, the parson could see them gathered. He wondered how they were arranged for the ceremonies, he pondered how long the worship lasted.
The parson rose from the log. Charlie Brown popped upright in anticipation of more walking. The one thing the parson knew was that sooner or later these people concluded their religious ceremony and headed back down into the valley. Now he did, too. And as he did, he wondered if the priests of that day had known the same joys, frustrations, and challenges. And he lamented that today's congregations did not, as had the ancients, made time in their seasons to climb the mountain and build an altar to be closer to their God.