May 4th, 2008

There is a place I go to when my mind is clattering against itself.

I go there at night, when I can’t sleep, and the thoughts keep rushing and tumbling and banging into each other. When my body’s completely drained but my mind doesn’t want the day to end. I used to go there when I went to a church where the music was loud and too much and I felt isolated and disconnected and hollow in the midst of it. I go there when I’m trying to breathe, trying to remember, trying to think, trying to not think. I go there when there is too much noise, too many thoughts, too much everything.

When I was younger and lived in Houston, my church made a summer trip to a retreat place in the mountains of Colorado. We made the 2 day drive in a caravan of white vans with blue vinyl seats, playing card games and listening to Depeche Mode. I remember the endless landscapes, the plateaus of New Mexico, the red dirt of Kansas, the monotony and the beauty all at once.

We drove far up the winding roads and when we got out of the vans the air was crisp and cool and clean. I looked forward to the week all year; it never came fast enough, never lasted long enough.

But sometimes there were just too many people, too much noise, too much stuff.

In the woods behind the cabins just off the trail there is a very small clearing – just a small circle in the woods.

It’s quiet and beautiful. Two white birch trees form a cross at the edge of the clearing, the edge facing the snow-covered mountains, visible in the distance. The grass is always vivid green, the sky is always brilliant blue. The colors are always vibrant and rich, over-saturated. The light filters through the trees, always golden, always perfect. The birch leaves dance in the light breeze. Never too hot, never too cold.

You can sit, feel, think, breathe.

I wonder how accurate my mind is in remembering. It’s possible the place is different than the place I go to now.

Sometimes there are bright yellow flowers, sometimes there is just tall grass – the kind that glows golden in the sunlight. Sometimes it is a very small space, sometimes it is a little bit bigger. Sometimes the trees are taller. I’m not even sure if you can see the mountains from the clearing.

It doesn’t really matter, because it is always peaceful, and always perfect. And it’s always there.

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