I found Paradise. It is in Boone, North Carolina, away in the Appalachians. A longtime friend says he found it in Hyde County, North Carolina, but, much as I love him, he is quite sincerely misguided. To get to heaven, climb up US 421 from Winston-Salem, and take a left.
Paradise is a little cabin in a hollow beside a creek. It is quite small—a living room, bedroom, and a tiny bathroom. Of course, it has the conveniences of a TV, DVD player, and I think wi-fi, but I needed none of those.
Its most salient feature is the porch with two rockers. The rockers overlook the creek, which is shaded by several large trees.
The creek is home to ducks, who waddled up its banks and posed for my smartphone when I arrived, bedraggled from the interstate.
I learned that creeks do not make only one sound of babbling. I closed my eyes and listened. After a while I detected three separate rhythms, flowing in an ever-changing counterpoint. Jazz.
For two evenings, after sightseeing and getting lost numerous times, I rested on the porch, anchored to reality by a Dr. Pepper and KFC.
My soul, weary of the city, took delight. I lost track of digital time, and marked its passing only by my breathing and the sinking of the sun into the woods.
It was so green and calm, embodying serenity, the peace beyond understanding. I could easily imagine my Lord, seated to my right in the rocker, chatting with me about mental upheavals and small gratitudes. Listening to my soliloquies on this charmed stage.
My heartbeat slowed. The buzzing of thoughts and questions gave way to a soft murmur as I shed my many burdens. Water flowed and bounced over the wet stones, as they had since before I was born, as they would long after I was gone.
Here and now, in the sacred moment… Paradise Found.