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Life-changing beauty in the outdoors

By By Debbie Young
Dec. 8, 2000
There are times in one's life when something emerges  an event, a person, a place, a sight, a sound  after which suddenly nothing is ever the same again.
I have been blessed throughout my life for many of these moments to occur in the outdoors. Some wonder why my family prefers taking our vacations camping out. Friends may say, "My idea of camping is the Holiday Inn as opposed to the Hilton."
Many of you know why we vacation in a tent, because you are reading the Outdoors Section. You are an outdoor person. You live to hunt, fish or hike, maybe even climb mountains. But just maybe one of you has strayed here from the political cartoons, editorials, or even the funnies.
Let me tell you about the great outdoors.
People speak of the beauty of crystal chandeliers, candlelight, and the like. I, however, have seen nature's most beautiful light source.
Lying one night in my sleeping bag in my tent, pitched facing east at the very edge of a gorge on the Cumberland plateau, I was awakened one night by a bright light, and couldn't believe it could be sunrise already.
I turned over and looked out the tent window directly in front of me to see one of the most amazing sights I have ever witnessed. The biggest, brightest full moon I have ever seen, literally filled my entire field of sight. It was rising right there, in perfect line with the tent window, coming up over the ridge and seeming to stand still as it filled the campsite with light as bright as morning.
On that night everything changed for me. I will never again see light made by the hands of man without making an instant comparison with the light made to fill the night sky by the hand of God. There are no words to describe the awe.
Another of the most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed was here in Lauderdale County. Last spring our church began a tradition that I hope continues forever. Twice a year we camp out together, usually about 30 brave and hardy souls, spending quality time together in the great outdoors.
I am blessed to belong to a church with people who just plain ole like to have fun. The things you learn in camp about people you normally only see in their Sunday best is priceless. People emerging from their tents on Sunday morning provide a parade of hairstyles and attire that Mr. Blackwell would love to add to his list.
Amid the laughter on a Sunday morning last October, I saw something that once again changed my perceptions forever. Many of us vacation by visiting museums full of beautiful paintings created by masters of art. We marvel at the play of color and light in a painting or photograph, the graceful form of a sculpture.
But on this morning, I saw color in a way that forever changed my perception of beauty.
Just as we came out of the tents the sun was making its debut into Sunday morning. Deep purple high up in the sky cascaded down through blue, pink, red, orange and the most golden color I have ever seen, and reflected a glorious fusion of colors on the surface of the lake.
No combination of man-made colors can compare. All art is imitation. I have seen the original.
For those of you who strayed here, maybe you'd like to join us on a regular basis, not just here in the Outdoors Section, but in the real outdoors. Buy a tent and some hiking boots. You'll be all the rage.
Hunt, fish, climb rocks, or just sit on the edge of a lake or pond and look and listen and smell the beauty of the outdoors for yourself.
Join us and see what you've been missing.
Debbie Young, of Meridian, is a banker and an avid outsdoorswoman.

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