Living in a “headlight culture”

Curt Iles


Maybe it’s a Southern thing (like fried catfish and pink flamingos in front yards) but I’ve always liked headlamps—or as we call them headlights.

In our rural community of Dry Creek, it really gets dark. No streetlights and few houses make for beautiful nights.

On these ink black nights, I love putting a headlight on my young grandsons and taking them outside. Proudly they follow me to our nearby campfire, afraid of nothing due to their bobbing lights.

(Curt Iles with Noah Iles.
Clint Iles reading to Jack Iles )

Last night I decided to walk to church for Wednesday prayer meeting. After nearly a week of rain, cold, and dreary weather, I was anxious to get outside. The beautiful clear sky beckoned and I decided it was too pretty to drive, so I walked.

I live less than a half mile from church, so it wasn’t a long walk. I strapped on my headlight, tucked my Bible and journal under my arm, and tromped across our open field. I was glad I had on my boots, as the ground was still sloppy.

The short days of winter meant it was already pitch dark and the stars really were bright. As I crossed the field, I switched off my light to best enjoy the sight of Jupiter, bright in the evening sky. In the east sky, I greeted my favorite constellation Orion the Hunter, rising above the nearby pines. A waxing moon peeked above the trees, casting shadows from the pines along my path.

When I reached my neighbor’s field of pines, I turned on my light to see clearly the narrow path. On my right were the hardwoods and oaks bordering the fence, and a gentle breeze wafted through the pines on my left.

The wind in the pines is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. I recalled the song Daddy often sang, “Whispering Pines.”

Out of sight of the highway, I moved along toward the church. Cutting through a gap in the fence by the road, I stepped up on the highway at the big curve near our church driveway.

Walking along the highway, I heard a barn owl calling from the edge of the woods. I called back and he answered several times, making me feel as if I’d made a new friend.

As I neared the church, a thought occurred: I wonder if there’s anyone else anywhere who is walking to church, Bible in hand, wearing a headlight over their ball cap?

The woods, fields, owl, stars, moon, and wind all pointed me toward their Creator. The more time I spend out in His creation—on walks just like this—the more sure I am of His existence and blueprint on the world.

So I thanked God that I live in a place where I can walk to church through an open field as well as a pine forest. I recalled the words of one of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry: “The Bible was written to be read outdoors.”

At the church, I put my light in my coat pocket and took a back seat, then opened my Bible and continued worship along with my church family. Our pastor, Bro. Benjie, led in a study on the “love chapter” of the Bible: I Corinthians 13. Our time together was sweet and I was glad I’d come.

And the reason I think I got so much from this evening worship time was that I’d already worshipped before I arrived. I’d worshipped as I walked, under the dark January night sky along the edge of the woods, wearing a headlight.

Curt Iles


  1. noah was so excited to see he and Papa together on the blog! what a good story- thanks for sharing it.

  2. Angie Kay Dilmore

    It’s great living in the country. I wish I could walk to my church. It’s too far, about 10 miles.

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