"In my mind I'm gone to Carolina," sings James Taylor.
Ever since my mind and the rest of me went to Carolina last week, that tune's been playing in my head, and it still is now that we're home. Do you mind a little travel note this week?
It's not hard to fall in love with Carolina. The rolling hills, rich forests, brilliant flowers taking seasonal turns in the spotlight, lush green vegetation (Water actually falls from the sky there; they call it rain!) is almost enough to throw a Texas (through and through) flatlander into sensory overload!
On a side note, this English major was particularly interested in the way those folks talk. Both Texans and Carolinians speak "Southern American English," which encompasses many dialects. But my tongue felt right at home. I could roll some "y'all's" off it and never raise anybody's eyebrows. I need to read more about this, but they talk pretty much like my people, but with a soft sort of blanket around some of the words that just feels warm and nice and welcoming.
My wife and I even felt a nice welcome from the Vanderbilts over at the Biltmore Estate (or at least the folks watching their little place there). Talk about sensory overload!
We had fun at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. Even more, we enjoyed touring through the Billy Graham Library at Charlotte. I don't toss the word "inspirational" around a bunch. But it is. And interesting. And faith-affirming. And peaceful. Just right for what it was designed to be and Who it was truly designed to honor.
We spent some wonderful time with dear friends who opened their warm home and became tour guides deluxe. With them we drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway, sampled some Carolina culinary delights, and floated on some fine Carolina water.
I even did a little work, if you could call it that. We'd gone to North Carolina to record the instrumentals for a Christmas album. Why Carolina? Just trust me, the rich mix of a heritage of old time music, gospel, country, blue grass, blues, etc., and a relative proximity to Nashville and Nashville-quality musicians (with less than Nashville prices) makes it perfect.
Gary Rushing's studio is as warm and welcoming as the man himself. He plays buttons and dials and sliders at an amazing tempo. Four genuinely nice guys showed up, dragged out a dizzying variety of instruments, drank a little coffee, tuned up, and . . . from the first note, I was utterly blown away. I've never been that close to that much world-class talent. As smooth as Carolina and quietly and unpretentiously honoring the One who makes the music of our lives, those guys have played with and for . . . a long and eye-popping list of folks.
Somebody goofed letting me in the door. But I'm thankful to the One who opened the door and who'll walk with us and lead on all our journeys if we let him.
I never thought my road would lead through Carolina. Sure glad it did. "In my mind . . ." this Texan will be spending a good bit of sweet time there.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at