“Let’s go to Riverbanks Zoo!” I announced to my family.
A day trip excursion was just what I needed. The hour and a half drive to Columbia from Charlotte was a relaxing get-a-way from everything that was bothering me. Monotonous stretches of asphalt smoothed my nerves as miles of pine forests saluted us along I-77. I loved the vacation feeling that was coming over me.
An unsettling chain of events left me in a funk. A neighbor’s unfounded bitter accusation of my family left us shocked and hurt. The neighbor’s cyber attack was delivered to everyone in our email address book. I tried blowing it off as “spam” or perhaps a virus but verbal barbs directed towards us proved that theory wrong. Our attempts at conversation or peacemaking were futile. We were their “target.”
On the heels of that attack was another just as big if not bigger. The church I had poured my life into was crumbling. I loved that church with all my heart. It was my world. The emerging division I witnessed in the congregation saddened me. I wasn’t prepared for betrayal by my pastor. I didn’t see that one coming. I never dreamed I would be lied to or lied about or that I would ever leave my church.
A palmetto palm grove in the median of the divided highway let us know we were half way there.
With my husband as chauffeur, I closed my eyes for the last half of the trip. In a half-sleep state, I relived the drama of an accusing neighbor and a former pastor. I fluttered my eyes a little waking from the nightmare to a relaxing glimpse of blurred pine tree groves .
Nearing our destination we exited towards downtown Columbia. I love downtown Columbia’s skyline with its mix of concrete spaghetti highways and bridges with rivers flowing through it. We finally reached our destination off Greystone Blvd. And parked our car.
With family pass in hand, we entered the tropical zoological paradise. Our first stop was the botanical gardens. We loved walking the pedestrian footbridge over the Saluda River up to the gardens. Sitting in the gardens surrounded by natural beauty I imagined for a moment that it was all mine. All the flowers I ever dreamed of in every color and fragrance were just a breath away.
Just for fun we took the tram ride back across the pedestrian bridge to continue our pilgrimage. Our next stop was my favorite exhibit, the aviary. I was drawn to one bird in particular, a chestnut mandibled toucan from the rainforest in South America. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw him and thought how much he resembled the bird on the Fruit Loops cereal box. As I studied him, I read the information box: The chestnut mandibled toucan is found in Hondorus and flys through the rainforest singing “Dios te de” which translates into English as “God Keep You”.
I felt a special blessing was bestowed upon me at that moment. Heaven and Nature sang. The Song of Creation came to mind: “ O all ye fowls of the air, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify him forever.”
Yes, this day trip excursion was just what I needed.
Susan Lemckert [email protected]