Have you ever been someplace that makes you feel as if it is the only place in the world to be – a place that feeds your soul?
I found such a place to be a walking path leading to Loch Lee in Scotland. I have only been there once, but that was enough to imprint it in my mind forever.
On the few days that we actually got a reprieve from the clouds and rain, our family would pack up a lunch and drive up into the hill, find a walking path and follow it for hours. We almost never realized how far we had walked until we returned to our car. The day we discovered Loch Lee, we were feeling especially adventurous and drove further up into the hills than we ever had before. It was a perfect day for a walk through the Scottish countryside. The sun was like light beaming through fresh lemonade in summer. The air caressed our faces like whispers of sweet secrets. The dark days of winter seemed behind us as heavy coats turned into cable knitted, wooly sweater that hugged the body like a warm blanket. As we drove through hills, we were once again in awe of the beauty that Scotland had laid out for anyone that wished to see and enjoy it. I do not remember exactly what led us to stop at that particular path, but I am glad we did. We parked our car in the grass on the side of the road, unloaded the children and with growing excitement as to what we would find on the path before us, we began our journey.
Scotland often made us feel as if we were living in another century. This journey was proving to be one of those types of journeys, as the first landmark we encountered was a little stone church that was centuries old. We knew this from the dates on the tombstones that were peacefully posed on the lawn just outside the entrance. I could not help but think of the people who had been there before me, as they were still there eternally embraced by the earth with their names forever etched in stones that could not even hint at the who of the heart that was resting in the peaceful silence that surrounded every element of the environment as if in respect for the ones permanently paused here. So as not to break the peace, my husband and I shuffled the children back onto the path to see what would be around the next bend.
Our next landmark was a grey stone cottage with ribbons of ivy and roses stitched to the walls and a white picket fence that gracefully girdled a garden of glorious flowers. This cottage existed as if it were the only place that existed and the rest of the world was a dream. Next to the cottage was a great ancient stone tower. It reminded me of the tower that Rapunzel dangled her tresses from to the triumph of her prince. It was three or four stories high. There were no windows or doors where one would expect them to be. We soon learned from a passer-by that the tower was used in previous centuries when the local families were under the attack from an enemy clan. They would use a ladder to get in and then pull the ladder inside to keep the enemy from getting to them. We could hardly believe that whole families lived inside such a small space.
I felt completely at peace walking and wondering at the fact that this was the only place I had ever been where I felt I was a part of the earth. The path we were walking along was so peaceful that I swear I could feel the earth breathing as if were soundly sleeping. Even the noise of my children running and laughing did not seem to interfere with the earth’s rest. It only seemed to make it breath more evenly, and added to the peace that surrounded us. Soon our path narrowed and the hills began to cradle close like a mother’s arms surrounding her happy babe. We were higher into the hills now and the day was creeping into night. The air was so crisp and clean that my lungs felt like pure oxygen was sweeping the cobwebs of pollution from their crevices. The sky was streaked with pink and blue rivers of liquid cotton candy clouds as the sun was dropping beneath the horizon. Our curiosity and reluctance to leave natures luxury pushed us over the hill that seemed to tempt us like a finger bending, beckoning us to see a hidden secret. The secret once revealed momentarily grasped my lungs and pressed the air deep into them, robbing me of a momentary breath. We had finally arrived at Loch Lee. The path had come to the end, but “the end” did not seem to be a fitting term, it was the beginning of “a peace that passeth all understanding.”
The Loch that stood before us was nurtured by three hills that were blanketed in a patchwork of purple and white heather that blossomed on the sides of the hills blending with the hues of blue and pink in the sky. The sheep and the rabbits grazed on the same patch of grass, each not seeming to notice the other was there. They didn’t even seem to notice us. It felt as if we were the only people on earth. On the other side of the Loch was a tiny white stone cottage with wisps of smoke trailing from it’s chimney, reminding me of the smoke wafting from my husband’s pipe as he rested in his chair releasing the day into the night. All I could think of was whether the people living in that cottage felt what I was feeling at that moment everyday, or if they took for granted the beauty and peace that surrounded them. The most amazing thing to me was when I looked into the faces of my husband and children and realized that I was not alone in these thoughts. They also felt the beauty of this place of peace.
I cannot speak for my family, but my life has been forever altered by this journey. Whenever my life seems down and the world seems ugly. I have this place, whether the journey be physical or mental in which I can become one with the earth and forget the rest of the world even if only for a moment.