I found something today I was not looking for (and did not realize it was missing until the day unfolded.) This is my story of finding an essential piece that’s been missing from my life.
A sense of goodwill and peace greeted me as soon as I stepped onto the land. Wide scenes of verdant rolling hills, farmlands, Oak Savannas, and prairies caught both my eye and my breath. It was surreal and contained an almost palpable sense of homecoming. Yet, I had just arrived at a place I had never been before.
After a mere two minutes of formality which entailed signing in as a guest, I found that my companion and I were not in that role any longer. It ended the minute we turned the corner into a room full of faces filled with anticipation and joy at our arrival. Yet, I had not seen any of these smiling faces before this moment.
A sweet faced elderly but spry woman immediately greeted me by name and reached out to not only shake my hand but hug me! Naturally, I let her grandma-type arms envelop me in a full, genuine embrace. Around the room I went, shaking all the hands that were warmly offered to me in a gesture of welcome and anticipation. This might have been odd for an introvert such as myself but it wasn’t at all.
Next, I left this room with one of the new faces to discuss our roles and possibilities of joining in some work. The conversation was as comfortable and warm as my morning cup of tea. Likewise, our exchange of words were appreciated in much the same manner. In the background, a handbell choir could be heard practicing their music for the week. The sounds travelled lightly through the air, inviting one to listen for the next chime or note.
What followed was a tour of this beautiful property I had the honor of visiting. A walk through some wide glass doors delivered areas made for quiet reflection and contemplation. We followed trails through the oak studded woods, past a prairie planting, and out to a community garden filled with vegetables and sunflowers just waiting to be full enough to deliver their seed.
Turning around past a prairie field filled with Joe Pye Weed, Pale Purple Coneflowers, Common Milkweed, Bergamot, and flitting Monarchs took us to a labyrinth of brick, signifying an ancient practice of walking, following a path, turning, and retracing steps, much like we do in the living course we call life. It was fascinating, and again, very welcoming.
Upon return to the building for lunch, what was impressed upon me was the kindness that exuded from everyone’s face. Not just one face, or a face here or there, but the faces of all. It was the warmth of humanity being shown to all – not just to my companion and I as guests, but also to those who were known to the staff, and each other. Kindness. Attentive listening. Warmth. Genuineness. Welcoming.
I had thought we would leave after lunch, which included greens and some vegetables from the community’s very own gardens. But, no. Our hosts had invited us back for more conversation, more discussion, of ideas based around community, environment, and engagement. The time passed quickly.
Within a half hour of our post lunch meeting we were saying our goodbyes. I realized I found here, in a place I had never been, a sense of peace. I think I’ve been missing that from my life lately. I revere nature and try to care for our mother earth. But, today, I felt cared for – by strangers. Their optimism, kindness, forward thinking views and calm, open discussions about important topics bolstered me. I was lifted up by the sense of peace I found in this visit today. A welcome offered by strangers who had kind smiles and open arms was a vehicle for me find peace once again.