Every morning I receive via my Facebook feed a photographic image from the Isle of Skye. We all have, I believe, those places that nourish our souls, landscapes that help us remember deep truths about ourselves. Seeing these images first thing every morning helps me, even in these bleak winter days, to remember a grounding that goes someplace within that has a centering affect. It may sound crazy but it is true. Seeing these photos of rock, stream, valley and hallowed hills help me to breathe more deeply no matter the quality of sleep the night has delivered. This landscape of Scotland is a heart place for me. Sometimes when I am trashing about in my self-induced anxiety about whatever the worry of the day is, I remember this photo which then takes me to a place that shouts, for me, the eternal story of which we are all a part.
Most people, I believe, have such a landscape memory that holds them. Though they may not describe it in such a way as I do, people take mini-vacations all the time by thinking of a place where they have felt truly themselves in profound ways, places where they can let the troubles and distractions of the world fall away, leaving only the beauty and presence of their own sacred selves. Many people I know, and I include myself among them, have experiences like this thinking of the shores of a Lake Superior. Its rocky edges flowing into the deep, dark blue of expansive, cold water brings a cell-deep reminder to breath with waves and majesty. I have a sister-in-law whose love of the beach, its white sands and warming sun, calls to her over and over, offering its gifts of calm and sweet release. She is drawn there and cannot resist its siren call.
As human beings we are born to relationship. I believe it is woven into the very fabric of Creation. Most often this relationship is expressed through our encounters with other humans. We live out that pull toward relationship through the ups and downs of family, friendships and work-life patterns. Many of us also extend this relationship building to animals….pets that travel life’s path with us……those ones that look at us with more love than we often believe we deserve. ( Just this week I have been missing the Big Black Dog that moved to Seattle with our older son.) These living, breathing ones that have a give-and-take with us are the bedrock of living this relationship life.
But I believe we also have relationship with the landscapes around us as well. This is the recognition that often goes unspoken or forgotten, the connection that can often be the most grounding when the threads of our life starts to fray. It is at those times that we can cry out like the psalmist before us…” How lovely is your dwelling place,O God! My soul longs, indeed it faints for the places of God. My heart and my flesh sing for joy.” O.K., maybe none of us would say it quite this way but the feelings are still there.
Where are the places that hold you in just such a way? What are the landscapes that, when remembered, remind you once again of who you truly are? How can you go to that place, if not literally then in your imagination, when life threatens to overwhelm? What image would most ground you in the Beloved presence to center you for the work of this day?
Wherever those places are, I wish you a vivid imagination to go there. Perhaps you have a photo of this place that could be tucked into your pocket and stationed in a place where you will see it often and upon seeing it remember your true self. For me this morning’s image of mist rising off an (unfrozen) lake which slowly extended into a view of the Cuillin Hills of the Isle of Skye, did the trick.
I am grounded for the work of this day. Blessed be.