Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Slipper

Yellow Ladies Slipper - White Oak Sinks - GSMNP
April 18, 2011

Half a mile down an unmarked trail in an area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park known to locals as White Oak Sinks, is a faint path which many lovers of these mountains have tried to obscure by placing twigs and branches across it.  I will be eternally grateful to the person who first led me a few yards down that path, over a branch and then pointed out the absolutely exquisite Yellow Ladies Slipper which you see in today's picture.  It saddens me beyond words to tell you that the first time I was taken here, there were three of these each standing as royally as this one, yet a closer examination revealed distinct differences.  Over time, some very selfish idiots individuals have chosen to dig up two of the plants thinking the Slippers would look better in their yard where only they could enjoy them.  My guess is that the other two are now dead because these were growing where God intended them to grow and they do not take kindly to being uprooted.  But this one remains and as much as I miss the others, there is something about seeing this one stand tall and perfect in it's solidarity that simply takes my breath away.   Its needs are simple - water, some sunlight and a little shelter from the harsh mountain winter.  It is, to me, the epitome of freedom.  It fulfills the purpose for which it was created and that purpose is to provide beauty and delight to people such as myself who every year, when I return, simply stand there with mouth hanging open in amazement at its beauty. 

I stared at the Ladies Slipper and was reminded how unimportant food is and how much unnecessary emphasis (control) we allow it to have in our lives.  At that point in time, I can assure you that what I was going to eat next was the furthest thing from my mind even though I had a backpack full of food within easy reach.  My head was in the "right" place and "food" was in its right place.  The Ladies Slipper has no control over anything - it survives by total dependence on the elements.  Only a human with misplaced motives or a predator (of which there are few) can harm or destroy the Ladies Slipper. 

I have no control over tomorrow.  I have no control over today.  I actually have no control or whether or not I take my next breath, but I have total control over what I put in my mouth today, tomorrow and the rest of my life.  If I could choose, would I choose the beauty of Jennifer Lopez (the world's recent "most beautiful person") or the beauty of the Yelllow Ladies Slipper?  I think you know the answer to that.

My friend and I moved on from the secret place of the Ladies Slipper to the waterfall which has a story all its own that will have to wait for another post.  We moved from the simple beauty of a single flower to the majesty of a bottomless waterfall.

Unnamed Waterfall - White Oak Sinks - GSMNP
April 18, 2011

I was still so moved that hunger or lunch was not on the radar, yet I knew in order to hike out of the sink, I had to eat.  In my head, I prayed for strength to remember the lessons of the Ladies Slipper and the secrets found in White Oak Sinks.  I prayed for the vision when cravings kick in and the general, "I don't give a flip" rears its ugly head, to "see" the Yellow Ladies Slipper in the darkest dark of a mountain night standing tall and regal needing only the nourishment required to keep it healthy.  And I prayed for all of you.  That you will find something equally vivid as you move through your day. Something that will stick in your head and remind you that the only thing we REALLY need food for is nourishment.  Why give it a place of priority when there is so much beauty all around us and so many secrets to discover?  

I challenge you to find something of beauty today that reminds you of the proper place of food in your life.  Please come back and share with me what you discovered.

Monday's memories are sustaining me still.  It has been a calm, peaceful, no-drama relationship with food for the past several days.  I'm beginning to feel better and can tell the meds are helping with the sinus infection.  So far, I'm even fighting the prednisone battle with courage!  Time in the woods is certainly a healer for me.


  1. Sharon,
    It is the beach for me. I saw a dolphin while I was there and have told most of my friends about it, but I never thought to blog about it. I think I will this afternoon.

  2. Glad you are feeling better. I absolutely can use every reminder I get about putting food in the proper place in my life:)

  3. I know exactly what you mean Sharon. When I get out to explore the beauty of nature, food is the furthest thing from my mind. It sounds like we both had a beautiful at White Oaks Sink and me at Panther. And yes, we should definately do that walk together. Just let me know when you'd like to go...I'm open!!!

  4. Kimberlynn is so right. When I'm out for a hike, sitting on the beach or sitting next to a stream, food is the last thing on my mind...

    I so enjoy your pictures... Can't say that enough...

  5. I LOVE both the ladyslipper AND the waterfall. Don't know that I could choose one over the other. And love that idea of a vision of God's beautiful creation replacing the silly obsession over food. I will be looking for my beautiful reminder tomorrow.

  6. We have pink lady slippers here in MN. They are the state flower and actually quite rare to find. The yellow one is a true beauty. I can also not understand what compels some to dig up these beautiful plants. Happy Easter!

  7. Just beautiful. The flower, your words and you! I will take up your challenge!!

    Blessings to you my Friend!!!

    Happy Easter!