The Resting Place – one of my sweetest memories….
I sit here in my garden, surrounded by so many things that quietly whisper to my soul, speaking to me about the life that I have lived. Each item has been affectionately placed to add to the affect that this spiritual resting place has for me – reminders of pieces of my life that created the person that I am today. The joys, the losses, the love, children, “home”. They all harmoniously work to replace the noise of the day in my head with a peaceful lull of quiet reflection
When my sister and I were little, we used to walk down the country road, just a quarter of a mile or so from our front door. My smaller hand in hers, we would walk down the road – a quiet narrow road lined with rolling ditches that were covered in long grass which framed freshly plowed fields of dark Illinois soil. I can still smell that country air and see the greenness of the grass, watching it lay over in the gentle summer breeze. It temporarily shushed my playful spirit as we walked, two sisters with joy in our hearts and country in our blood.
We had a place that we went to, called the “resting place”. My mother could watch us from the house, a comfortable distance for her peace of mind. She would watch her girls giggle and play, enjoying the freedom of being allowed to be adventurous and untamed. Times were different. People felt safe. Mothers didn’t worry when their kids played outside. We were sisters on an imaginary journey to our “place” to play our games through the innocent eyes and playful minds of little girls.
We entitled it the “resting place” because it was halfway down to the corner of the road. When we’d go for our walks with Dad to the corner – we’d stop at the “resting place”, to take a pause for our short little legs trying to match the long strides of our dad’s. The resting place was actually made of cement – a flat slab on the side of the ditch with iron rungs at the base that we’d sit and dangle our feet over, looking fearfully into the darkness beneath, our imaginations running wild with thoughts of the scary creatures beneath. If my dad were here, he’d remember it, without a moment’s hesitation.
“If my dad were here”. I wonder how many times I’ve said that over the years since he’s been gone. It still makes me so very sad that I’ll never hear his voice again during my time on this earth. So many times, I think about telling him something or asking him about a plant or some question that he would know the answer to. At the most unexplainable moments, I will think of him, briefly feeling he is still with us, ready to pick up the phone and hear his voice. Those moments catch me off guard and fill me with such an immense sense of sadness and an indescribable disbelief that he really is no longer on this earth. I falter slightly and then recover with gratitude for what we had together knowing that I will eventually see him again – in another spiritual world. It is my faith that carries me through those moments, picking me up and moving me forward, carrying his spirit tucked away inside, always there.
At the “resting place”, my sister and I would play until Mom would call us home and we’d come running happily up the road, enjoying the sense of freedom that living in the country brings. I remember holding hands with her, running up the drive, seeing my mom’s smile waving from the steps as she talks with my dad, home from the fields, sunburned and smelling softly of soil. My mom was pretty, feminine and petite; my dad handsome, earthy and gentle. It was such a sweet life, filled with a richness and simplicity that had nothing to do with the pleasures that define happiness today. We had the chance to bask in the security of family, to breathe in the smell of the earth, to connect our minds with nature and dance with the freedom of creativity. I spent hours alone in my thoughts, riding miles on my horse, seeing beauty in the country, and being at peace with nothing but time on my hands. I created my day, with nothing more than the wide open sky and fresh country air to put on my life canvas. The colors that I created were endless. The creations were Mona Lisa’s in my mind. It was the beauty of the earth at my fingertips and my imagination as the tools to create the art.
My friend and I rode our horses nearly every day. We’d meet halfway between her house and mine and we’d head off to trails unknown for hours on end. We’d stop and pick up pop bottles along the way, turning them in at the country store for money and treating ourselves to an ice cold soda – the ultimate reward for our long trip. We’d tie our horses up and sit in front of the store and feel completely peaceful and carefree. I don’t recall our parents ever being worried about where we were. No cell phones, no music in our ears, no schedules. Just “be home before dark” and that was all there was. We’d ride back to the place where we’d part ways – she heading back to her house, me heading back to mine. The music that we’d listen to were our own voices, singing or whistling. We’d yell and whistle to each other until the distance won over the sound.
I remember riding through the fields in different seasons. I would ride bareback through the wheat fields, feeling the massive muscles of my horse surging under my thighs, the wheat stinging my bare legs. Fall brought on dried corn fields, husks lying depleted and stripped from the harvest. “Thunder” and I would ride down those trampled rows – I can still hear his hooves hitting the dirt and crunching the dried stalks. There was a love between us that was unexplainable – an unconditional love that went beyond the intellectual differences of man and horse. He and I lived for our time together, our souls connecting as we galloped through the country. No longer were we two beings. We were one, then, in sync with the cadence of the ride and the blended desire to feel the wind in our face.
As I sit and write in my own “resting place”, I look at what I have brought here to surround me in this haven. My parent’s mailbox sign , missing a letter in the name. A horse’s cement “tie down” – an antique from family farms before my time. Candles illuminating statues of angels – those who watch over us , those who have guided us. Memories of those already gone. Flowers, herbs, and foliage that remind me of greenness and beauty and days of my youth.
My “resting place” here brings memories of the past merging with the present and the everlasting hope for future generations. My parents, my life, my children’s lives – their children’s lives. The circle of life that continues to amaze me with each new child that is created and glimpses of their heritage are revealed in the color of their eyes or the shape of their hands. It’s amazingly comforting that pieces of our lives carry on in theirs. We are never truly gone.
The quickness of my life both amazes me and brings me to my knees. My mother ages, I age, my children age and the continuity and circle of our lives continue to evolve into more than I ever thought I would see. The child spirit in me will always continue to wrestle with the relentless strength of my aging mind as I long for the sweet memories of my life. I look to this “resting place” I’ve created to remind me, to whisper those memories to me, to replenish my soul, and connect me to those days. If I close my eyes I still recall the feel of my sister’s hand in mine and the sweet joy of running in the sun. I soak it in, I feel it run through my pores, and bask in the memory of that sweet country life and my child spirit breaks free and soars.