Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday's Reflection: Where Would You Rather Be?

One day this summer, when I was feeling a bit blue, I made a list of where I would rather be at that moment. I listed places where I knew I would feel relaxed and content and where I would focus on more than just myself and whatever was bothering me. 

The first item on that list was Door County.

The "Thumb" of Wisconsin
For those of you who aren't familiar with Door County, it is the "thumb" of Wisconsin. Drive beyond Green Bay, home of the Packers and keep going north. The water known as Green Bay is on one side of the peninsula and Lake Michigan on the other side. Some people call it the "Cape Cod of the Midwest," and I understand the comparison, but it is its own unique setting --and is only a few hours away from our Madison home. 

I could do a whole travelogue about Door County--what to see and what to do--but none of that addresses why it is the first place I think of when I feel a need to be some place else. Yes, I know it can be crowded with visitors and you sometimes need to wait for over an hour at our favorite breakfast spot, The White Gull Inn, voted the "best place for breakfast in the United States" on the Today show, and it can be hard to get a last minute reservation for a place to stay, but here's the thing. My breath changes there. 

Recently, my husband and I spent a long weekend in Door County. Part of the reason was to mark Bruce's slight movement towards retirement. Now instead of working eight days a week, he works four. A very good thing. But another reason was to catch up on breathing. 

One shouldn't go too long without breathing. 

Breathing in Door County

The plan was simple: sit on the balcony of our modest hotel where we could see the water, read and nap; wander the back roads of the peninsula where there are few cars; return to favorite galleries, such as Morning Mist Studio, and enjoy leisurely meals. Sleep late. And breathe. 

We didn't just catch our breath, we followed our breath. We became our breath. We emptied and then filled with restorative breath. Before we realized it, we were no longer holding our breath, but we were using our breath to laugh, to share memories and to notice all the beauties around us. 

Sacred Places and Spiritual Practice

When I think of someplace I would rather be at this exact moment, it isn't so much about "escape," or that I yearn for another kind of life. Instead words like "sanctuary" and "sacred" and "spirit" come to mind. The places on my list are places where I feel more like myself, the me I was created to be. They are places where rest and renewal are possible, intentional, and where the inner being meets the vastness of the universe. Most often for me, that means being near water, but not always. Someplace I would rather be is as near now as my front porch, and the garden at our Ohio country home was one of those places for many years. 

I know what a privileged life I lead. I am able to periodically
physically go to one of the "places where I would rather be." Even so, that is not always practically possible, but that's what developing and attending to a spiritual practice is all about. 

Spiritual practices provide sacred space and create a sanctuary where your inner being aligns with the vastness of the universe. When, for example, I write in my journal, letting the pen empty my mind and my heart, I can discover the invitations of spirit. I slow down and breathe and it is on the breath that recognition of the sacred in my life lives. 

Places You Would Rather Be
How about you? Where are the places you would sometimes rather be? Right now, without thinking or setting limits make a list of any place you would rather be when life gets too complicated. 
As many places as you want. 
When you have made your list--and it is ok to add to this list any time you want, take a few minutes to notice what it is about these places that appeal to you. 

What are the feelings that arise simply by thinking about those places or naming them? Do these places have anything in common? How are they sacred for you?

Go beyond the memories or fantasies connected with them and allow the spirit of the place to address your own spirit and notice that conversation. Breathe into what message there may be for you.

Explore these places and their messages for you. 

An Invitation
I would love to know about the places on your list and what they offer and teach you and how they restore you? I invite your comments. 

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