When you leave your city, you have a unique opportunity to adjust your perspective on things. Even a short, quick trip out of state gives you the chance to adjust your vision, take the “Caps Lock” off of your view of things around you. I recently had that happen.

Our family’s trip this past weekend to see Gramma, Uncle Steve, and Spanky the Cat in Tennessee was fun, with Gabriel being the most ecstatic of our troupe. As you know, or could guess, Tennessee is not the most…metropolitan state in our republic. And Atlanta, being the urban, business epicenter of the Southeast, provides a nice foil for the more relaxed environment where our extended family lives.

While there, our schedule was not packed, and the excitement level of our activities didn’t surpass a walk to the local Dollar General store or rushing outside at the sound of a train whistle in hopes of catching a locomotive passing us by on its way to who-knows-where.

A good bit of time was spent (the passive voice there was intentional) in front of the fire, measured by the quarterly chime of the grandmother clock and the heralding whistle of the trains. After a few, cumulative hours resting in front of the hearth, I gathered how sitting there, talking, reading, or…just sitting there was a worthwhile way to spend time.

Just us and the hearth and each other—it was renewing. There’s a certain vibrant tranquility in being near a fire. I suppose the boob tube has usurped the hearth as the center of attention in today’s home, much as the radio did before it. A pleasant companion, conversation is elbowed out by TV, yet flourishes around a fire. Funny how we’ve let that happen…and tragic.

So I want to have a fireplace once more…perhaps in our present home, perhaps the next. But for the time being this trip was a good reminder to slow down, no matter my surroundings.