I have always been a person that loves nature. Throughout my life, I’ve found great joy and peace through climbing trees, walking through the woods, and crawling my way down a cliff that we had behind our house in Iowa.
And there were certain places, special places, that I always fled to, when I was really down, or simply needed the peace and serenity that these places held for me.
The first such place, was at the bottom of that cliff I mentioned, in my hometown of Nora Springs, Iowa. The Shell Rock River ran behind my house, and at the bottom of the cliff, there was a small path, which ended at a large rock situated on the edge of the river. Whenever I was needing time and space to myself, or fleeing troubles, I would go to this place, tucked away at what, for me, was the back of beyond, and outside of reach of others.
I could lay in the sunshine, with the rush of the water flowing past, and simply disappear in time.
Or I would make small leaf boats, and set them sailing down the river, imagining that they would make their way all the way to the ocean before stopping.
I went back a few years ago, and walked all the way down the hidden path to that same rock. It’s smaller now, having worn a bit, and the waters having risen, but it’s still just as magickal to me as it always was. A place tucked out of sight, out of mind, and out of time.
Today, I have another special sanctuary. A place that I retreat to when things get tough, or I simply need a moment, a breath, of silence and serenity.
A public park in my city. This place is not large, but even though it’s in the center of the city, it’s almost eerily silent inside the park. Roads run all the way around it, with a small river winding through it, and I spend a lot of time there during the nice months, walking through the small paths, sitting in the grass, and simply soaking up the peace.
Walking along the paths, you get to see the Canadian geese that fill the park from spring to fall, and you get to feed the little goslings, who are totally adorable, as long as you keep your distance, as the parents are pretty protective and very hissy.
There are also a multitude of red and black squirrels in the park, who are very bold, often to taking food right from your fingertips.
This place, this park, is a very special space. And even though it’s a public park, I still feel like it’s all mine. There’s a stillness, a silence, that fills me when I’m there, and it brings me a lot of serenity.
The sanctuaries I’ve found have always been outdoors, close to the earth. And knowing what I know now, about myself, my faith, it makes a lot of sense. And so, I’ll leave you with this. There are places on this earth; wonderful, peaceful, serene places. And if you’re lucky enough to find one, mark it on your mental map. Hold on to it. Because this could become a sanctuary, a resting place, for you, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And that – is a treasure.
P.S. And yes, I ate the other half of that cookie. He shared with me, after all.