Reflections

Eleanor Deckert

My Favourite Place

I have a favourite place. Do you?

I have travelled to Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. I have seen a Broadway show and watched Marcel Marceau. I have heard the ocean waves and the thunder of waterfalls. I have been to mountaintops and explored caves.

But, my favourite place in all the world is a tiny bridge spanning a trickling creek in a parkland across the street from the Church in the Wildwood in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado.

Mighty Pikes Peak lifts the eye above the thickly forested mountains. Red granite gravel forms the hilly slopes. Dry climate can only support tufts of stiff grass, clusters of prickly pear cactus, knee-high sagebrush, spiky yucca, tangled scrub oak. In the valley bottom, Fountain Creek is the only body of water bringing refreshment to the horses and deer and splashing fun to the children.

One hundred years ago trains brought tourists up Ute Pass from the heat of the city of Colorado Springs spread out on the prairie to enjoy summer's breezes in the shelter of the valley. Now the abandoned railroad right-of-way is a pathway for hikers.

For hundreds of years before that, the Ute peoples walked beside these sparkling waters to pass from the prairie to the mountains as the food sources changed through the seasons.

In contrast to the sparse, native, prickly plants, my eyes soak in the green abundance and softness of the cultivated park. Tiny white clover blossoms and bold dandelions dot the lawn like a lush carpet.

The willow trees bend and sway in the breeze, their shade as welcome as a cold drink of water. The creek is shallow, the gravel bed clean, the distance across just farther than a child can jump, so parents allow their children to wade ankle-deep in the snow melt chill.

And this is precisely why this specific spot is my favorite place in all the world. I have played in this gently flowing water as a child, with my brothers and sisters exploring, sending leaf boats along the current, looking for shiny mica, tossing in Pooh-sticks to race under the bridge.

My father was a small boy when his parents lived here. Grammie watched after him, calling to the other children, “Be careful!” and “Don't go too far!” and “Good for you!” What did she pack for a picnic lunch?

My mother's mother came here to live in her silver-haired years. As aunts, uncles and cousins came to visit Oma, we all enjoyed this sheltered haven.

When my husband and I brought our brood, I could sense the passage of time, the continuity of tradition, the sweetness of family outings, the foundation of family ties. Now I call out the same cautions and encouragements my mother and grandmothers did.

And more. Now my children are grown and gone. I stand alone on the bridge, opening my ears to the song of the creek, the whisper of the willows. I open my mind to allow memories to flow and sparkle like the water and sunshine dancing together. I open my heart to fill with gratitude for my life, my family tree, my experiences, my travels, my returning. I open my spirit to sense any message this quiet place will allow me to hear.

“He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23

Yes, I am not alone. He leads me. Such a quiet, sturdy basic foundation upon which to build.

Now I hear the church bells, with a steady pulse, calling me. Reluctantly, I leave my nature inspired musing. Gathering with others who pause on this Sunday morning to worship in song, prayer, reading, and traditions gives me a double dose of the Sacred for today.