Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It’s a smallish town on the banks of the Tennessee River. It’s home to about 14,000 people. It’s also the birthplace of Sophia Sojourn (the boat not the blog!).
From the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s the Burns-Craft boat company built house boats and yachts in this north Alabama river community. Sometime on 1975 or 1976 one of the 14,000 people went to work and poured the fiberglass into a mold that would become the hull of my home. One of them ran the wires that would light my lights. One of them nailed down the boards that I now walk on every morning. (One of them ran all the copper tubing that carried water to my sinks and although I replaced that with new PVC pipes last summer, they should still get a shout out!).
I stopped there for gas on my way from Texas to Tennessee this week. It was a bit out of my way but I felt the need to connect with this place. I like to think that the clerk that I paid for my gas was the grand-daughter of one of those workers, or the old man pumping gas next to me used to be in that plant. I asked them both. He had at least heard of the company – she had no idea what I was talking about. Regardless the two of them will serve as symbols of the skill, talent and labor that went into building my little slice of peace in the chaos of my life.
It was significant to reflect on where things are from as I headed back to visit my family. There have been a lot of changes in my life since the last time I spent any time with them or in this community. The past couple of days have been both a time of rest and a challenge as I have taken the opportunity to reflect on all that is going on and have had some much needed, face to face conversations with some of the most dear people in my life.
I have been blessed and humbled by the unconditional love that I have experienced this week. While there may not be a great deal of understanding and even some disagreement on the way things are developing, I have not felt any sense of rejection or anger. These are my roots and while I may not feel “at home” here, I know I will always have a home here when I need one.
Just like the craftsmen of Muscle Shoals are lifeblood of Sophia’s history, my family represents years of investing time, talent, love and life in each other. That is something that will never be replaced and I pray I never take for granted.