Saturday, October 15, 2011

Respite and adventure

The best remedy for those who are afraid,
lonely or unhappy is to go outside,
somewhere where they can be quiet,
alone with the heavens, nature and God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be
and that God wishes to see people happy,
amidst the simple beauty of nature.
I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
-Anne Frank

Not long ago, feeling disconnected from nature and depleted from being endlessly wired in to technology, I decided to spend a few nights at a Buddhist retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains.

The retreat center offers two types of lodging-- small, private rooms and yurts (similar to a tent cabin) away from the main buildings in a towering redwood grove. While trying to decide which type of lodging I wanted to stay in, I felt a tiny shiver of fear at staying alone in a yurt in a secluded forest, so I went with that. Something inside of me was craving both respite and adventure.

During the day, I hiked through the forest. On the trails I came across little altars and statues placed on rocks and tucked under trees. My favorite hike was the Eight Verses Pilgrimage Trail. Each of the verses are printed on a sign and spaced evenly throughout the trail with a nearby bench for sitting and reflecting.

There were offerings on top of some of the signs, like sea shells, medallions, stones, and bouquets of flowers.

The retreat was exactly what I needed. Time alone in a spiritually-nourishing, natural setting, where I could gaze up at the trees and listen to birds and reconnect with what is important to me.

This statue of St. Francis stood at a crossroads on a forest trail, placed there by the retreat center and used as a landmark on the hike to the yurt campsite.

Every time I came across him, he was a reassuring presence, letting me know I was on the right path.


justjenn said...

Looks gorgeous. I love the Santa Cruz mountains.

Tracey ~ Clover said...

Sounds wonderful! I have the exact statue in my dining room; the wee one calls him 'France'.
PS- the love the quote and it is something I need to practice more of. xx


Hi Stacy,
We all need time to connect with what I believe, God has made.

Thimbleanna said...

Wow Stacy -- it sounds like a wonderful retreat. And thanks for the reminder about the benefits of being outside -- something that I need to remember more often.

Theresa said...

Sweet and peaceful getaway:) Looks like a good cure! Have a blessed day my friend, HUGS!

Angela said...

How awesome. I'm not sure I could ever spend the night in a tent, in the forest, by myself. I would be so afraid. Oh, I'd love to, but I'm not sure I could do it. I envy you!
Have a wonderful Sunday.

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

How nice Stacy. Looks so relaxing there; just lost in your own thoughts.

Maiden Jane said...

It sounds amazing and I'm so glad you were refreshed by it. I crave solitude sometimes but it is hard to find it in our busy, wired lives. Being out in nature is one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself.