Since I first began to visit it a year ago in midsummer, my Thoughtful Spot has been a haven, a refuge of permanence and rhythm, a place without chaos, and filled with the marvelous. But even as the seasons have changed in my thoughtful spot, so the seasons of life change.
Another year is upon us and it is time to seek out new challenges, and mine is to find Thoughtful Spots everywhere. I have recently moved from my quite rural nook to the outskirts of a busy downtown, and, though sorely missing my pathless woods and lonely pastures, I am discovering that quiet thoughtful spots, little corners of beauty and wonder, can be found wherever you may be.
Always be on the look out for the presence of wonder.
- E. B. White
So join me on this new adventure of searching for a little hermitage, surrounded by the beauty of nature, to study and observe and marvel at, every month. Whether it be an old log in the hundred acre wood, a mossy rock beside a waterfall, or path to the grocery store through maples that are just beginning to turn, these thoughtful spots must be sought after and discovered, wondered at and then shared, as they teach us to never take for granted the glorious minutia of daily life, and the overwhelming beauty with which God has filled the world around us.
It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to.
- J. R. R. Tolkein
It was summer, and the days were perfectly warm and breezy, the sort of days that seem to demand and deserve to be spent wholly out of doors. On the rare occasion when it seemed necessary to be inside for a while, the sunshine peered in through every window, as if searching for company and wondering why everyone wasn't out enjoying its exuberance. It was a summer of discoveries, adventures, and great wonders, of meandering down wooded trails, and stumbling upon breathtaking mountainscapes with little wooden benches perfectly situated to view them. This was the summer of 2019, two months of which I spent in a tiny town nestled in the Swiss Alps where a rather lovely thoughtful spot can be found.
This thoughtful spot was introduced to me by a friend when a few of us set off for a walk on an early summer evening. We turned by a fountain down in the town and started up a road, quite a steep road and as narrow as a sidewalk. We lumbered up this hill, admiring the views of the town gradually sinking below us to the right, and little chalets built against the supporting mountainside to the left, and then we reached the top, to be met by a barrier of trees and scruffy underbrush, which did not seem a terribly exciting vista at all. But then we rounded a corner.
Settled on the edge of a grassy field, surrounded by foreign pink and yellow wildflowers interspersed with familiar lacy yarrow and tiny self-heal blossoms, just off a little footpath shaded by a still-blooming elder, was a bench. It was one of those perfectly shaped wooden benches, the kind you can sit on comfortably for a long while, and you could smell wild mint every once in a while when you sat there, though I never could discover where it grew. In front of this bench, just two steps away, was a very steep slope down to the little town again, and straight out in front of it was a truly majestic view. That evening we wandered further around the tree line to see a tiny sliver of Lake Geneva, far below and away from us, and stayed to watch it turn to a bright red crescent in the sunset. But that first walk was far from the last time I visited this thoughtful spot. For it was a wondrously beautiful place to pray, to read of great ideals, to write letters to the people I love best, to think, and to marvel. It also became the site of a rather painful injury when I discovered a old metal tram rail hidden in the grass by tripping and cutting my knee on it. The yarrow and self-heal were my faithful friends then, and helped turn an ugly gash into a now fading scar.
I often wonder who is sitting at that thoughtful spot now, though I have no doubt that it is beloved by someone and its peaceful solitude is enjoyed by many. It's easy, though now two years later, to let my thoughts drift to a sweater discarded in the sun's warmth, cheery wildflowers, resplendent purple and blue mountains, and a little wooden bench from which to enjoy it all. A great many memories can be summed up in a photograph, and so it always makes me smile to see that, though still in Switzerland where I sincerely hope it is the favorite spot of many other thinkers, my beloved thoughtful spot of yesteryear also resides, quite happily, at the top of this page.
The sky is dark and soft, and the air is filled with the scent of a brewing storm. But the grey of the cloudy sky has its magic, for, in the absence of the blinding summer sunlight, I can look straight upward at the sky. Dozens of songbirds and their fledglings are scattered in a crowded, busy silhouette against the grey. I don't know if there are always so many at the edge of the woods when I walk here, but they are remarkable today.
Here at my thoughtful spot the dark sky is hidden by the engulfing, dancing shades of green and growing things. Not a flower bloom is to be seen - the jewelweed is late this year - everything is all rich, deep, multi-hued green. Even the oddly handsome little fellow who has decided to sit next to my mossy rock blends almost invisibly into the green around us. He looks like some sort of Katydid, but I can't seem to identify him concretely.
The earth has donned her mantle of brightest green;
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The ground is hard,
And yet the world,
Many current trends in natural health focus on ecotherapy and shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, reiterating with scientific studies and medical terminology something that Winnie the Pooh taught us many years ago: we all need
a "Thotful Spot".
We need a little corner surrounded by nature where we can sit and be still, ponder and pray, and observe closely the beauty around us.
These posts are musings and meanderings from my Thoughtful Spot, recorded once every month, and interspersed with occasional ramblings about my favorite medicinal herbs.
I hope you'll join me in finding a Thoughtful Spot, visit it often, record the things that make you marvel, and remember,
"the world will never starve for want of wonders..."
- G.K. Chesterton