Inspirations Along the Waynesville Greenway

September 8, 2021
Our need for human connection.

(Note: I’ve been writing a Religion column for our local newspaper, The Mountaineer. As I own the copyright, I thought I’d repost select pieces here).


While you need to have some creativity to write, in finishing my next book, I’ve also had to be creative in finding places to write.

After this long pandemic, I’m over writing at home. It’s not terribly inspiring. So, on most weekdays I’ll tell my wife I’m headed out. Often, I’ll tell her, I’m headed “out and up.” I’ve driven up to parkway overlooks like Richland Balsam and Water Rock Knob. I have some friends with property up high who’ve let me come up to enjoy their views and solitude. But very often, I just write down in Waynesville Park.

Certainly, the sound of the creek, the smell of the trees and grass are all inspiring. But I’m also charmed by the walkers along the greenway. Especially the couples. Most everyone knows that Haywood is a magnet for retired people. And while I see all kinds of walkers, it’s the older couples I find most beautiful.

I’m assuming they’re married. The hair is usually grey. The clothing mismatched. The walking accessories colorful. But there they are, walking along. Sometimes holding hands. I imagine that this is just one of a hundred walks they’ve taken together over the years. This inspires me just as much as the views atop Water Rock Knob.

I recently wrote a phrase in my new book that says, “traveling companions are your ‘why’.” Whether it’s a short walk along the greenway or the long journey we take from birth to death—having others with you doesn’t just pass the time, it’s the reason we walk at all. It’s certainly the reason we keep going when all other reasons are lost.

As the pandemic starts to wane and the world opens up more and more, my heart is awakened with excitement that we can begin joining each other again. In churches, coffee houses, and meeting halls. At gyms, restaurants, and sporting events. In these miraculous outdoors we’re so privileged to enjoy.

There’s no vaccine we can take for loneliness. While family—like my dear wife—are our most important connections, we also need others to live and grow. We need friends. Community. We need a diversity of thought and experience to remind us that we’re not the center of the universe. We need opportunities to send love and kindness out into the world again.

Scripture says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” While this likely speaks of when we’ll meet God in heaven, this still resonates with what I need today. This Covid lockdown has felt like “seeing in a mirror dimly.” The four walls of my apartment are not enough. I need to see people face to face. I want to know as fully as I have been known.

I’ve enjoyed observing such connections in those couples along the greenway. It’s inspired me to start doing life once again with others, too.


About John Michalak

An author and speaker, John Michalak has spent more than 25 years encouraging others in the areas of life-change and personal relationship. John’s inspirational book, 365 Devotions To Embrace What Matters Most is available from places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most everywhere books are sold.

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