Tuesday, July 10, 2012


A recent photo I posted on Heart By Nature's Facebook page got me thinking about paths...both the real and metaphorical kind.  The description of the photo was,
"Prairie Pond Woods has paths for all sorts of thinking, praying, meditating, singing, observing, skipping, drawing, closing your eyes and filling your senses or just pausing to consider all you have to be thankful for."

It's true.  There are paths that circle around the prairie, paths that lead to Adirondack chairs in the woods, a path that leads down to the pond and one that connects Kavanah to a swing in the Pine Sanctuary.  On a good day, when the temperature is right and the pace is slow and full of observations and discoveries, it can take over 2 hours to walk this Refresher Course. But even longer if you take the time to sit and contemplate the personal "paths" you are currently on in life, how you got there or where you might want to go instead.

There are many references to paths in sacred texts and the writings of great men and women.  Jesus refers to the "narrow path" that his followers need to choose, and equates our hearts with "the path" on which God sows the seeds of the Kingdom.  Robert Frost, by his poetic example, encourages us to follow the "path or road less traveled."  And of course who can forget the many lessons learned on the "yellow brick road" (which eventually turned into just a path).

All of us are on a course...some kind of "path" that we  either consciously chose or perhaps ventured down while we weren't really paying attention.  Or maybe we are on a chosen path but still not really paying attention...not being intentional or grateful or joyful or filling it with the creative energy we are capable of. There's always time for course corrections and as the T-shirt slogan reminds us:


"Not All Who Wander (down unknown paths) are Lost." 

Recently, I hosted a woman, an artist, who came to Prairie Pond Woods for a personal retreat.  She was on a path of busyness, but had the great wisdom to detour down another path of solitude and rest.  More than once she commented to me during her retreat how just walking outside in silence cleared her mind and created a receptive spirit within her.  With her permission, I'm sharing the email she sent when she returned home, in hopes that her experience might be of inspiration to other artists...or moms, or students, or other average folks like you and me. 

"Just want to let you know how much I loved being at Prairie Pond Woods--it was a wonderful escape from the busyness that my everyday life brings! It was lovely spending time with you as well, thank you for the guided tour of the Refresher Course, I very much enjoyed learning about the nature and terrain on the property. And the extra special bonus was getting to know you...thank you for listening and bearing witness to my new discoveries of myself and nature! "

"Prairie Pond Woods is a very special place. The time I spent there has inspired my creativity and reinvigorated my desire to get back into the ceramic studio. I've long known that spending time outside in quiet settings refills my well of positive energy but the retreat you've created enhanced that process in so many ways. My favorite spot, as you know, was the Kavanah! I loved bringing my art journal, supplies and books up there and spending the day doing whatever my heart desired."

"Thank you so very much for an amazing couple of days! I will be back again when my well runs dry!"

To schedule a personal retreat contact Cindy Steffen at 937-532-6688 or cindy@heartbynature.com