The smell of decomposed earth filled my nostrils as I struggled to trek up the mountain. It had been a while since I’ve hiked alone far from the settings of our retreat center. I mumble to myself, “I am Home.” Then I asked myself on the next breath, “What is that? What is it that defines our home?”
At times home is a description, an intricate noun of familiarity setting a place, person, or thing to feel a connection to our soul. I am home in my lover’s arms. I am home with my children around me feeling safe. I am home while holding a friend’s hand in need. I am home through laughter and deep conversations. But my true home, where I find peace, solace and acceptance, is nature. There in the waters of a river collecting heart-shaped rocks, and sitting on a giant boulder witnessing a waterfall, I am home again. The outside world becomes an illusion. Struggles don’t exist in the mind. Nature doesn’t judge or asks anything of what I’m not. It accepts my essence in just being present in the stillness of the now. In these moments problems melt, and like the decomposed soil, I shred the inklings of my humanness and become light in spirit. It is meditation at its finest. It is life at its sweetest. Nature allows me to get lost and find myself in the center of the universe.
I watched a family of deer crossing the road on the way up the mountain. The majestic presence of their daytime roaming out of the forest moved me. I had to stop on the side of the path and compose myself. Nature receives and recovers me. It is the bearing of all that I have become: mother, care taker, partner, lover, friend, spiritual consultant, and other professions that make the sum of me. In this sum they are just hats I get to wear to live in human form. Up high on the Blue Ridge Mountains I am home for a little while as my soul roams endlessly without boundaries. Nature engulfs me and “home” becomes the only noun I can describe.
Last week I mailed my oldest son a package with some of his stuff. He called me immediately upon opening it, “Mom, I just got the box and when I opened it I could smell lavender and I miss home. Thank you for sending a little part of home to me. I love you so much!” He was nostalgic. I was touched. Home and its smells traveled a thousand miles.
This morning, at that moment of impact through the mountains, I inhaled the humid-stale air into my lungs and released all that had been stored for months. Yes, the smell of peppermint, rosemary and lavender is home. It is my house and all that it entails to find comfort and a haven of familiarity. It is a dwelling of security. But up on the ridges, without contact from the world for a few hours I found my sanctuary. God sat by me marveling at the beauty He created while I whispered, “Thank you. It’s good to be back. I am home again!”
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite 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. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” ~ Anne Frank