This I Believe

Ann - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Entered on December 6, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

This I Believe: A Change of Scenery Can Do Wonders

I believe in giving yourself a change of scenery from time to time. That doesn’t necessarily require the purchase of a pricey ticket to an exotic destination, or an extensive leave of absence from work or home. Sometimes just a small detour can take you to a place of wonder and beauty.

I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a mid-sized, Midwestern city located on the shores of Lake Michigan. A few blocks away from my house, there is a public park that looks out on the vast expanse of a great lake. When I take a stroll down the street and gaze upon that wide horizon, for all my soul knows I could be standing on the shores of an ocean – and then a shift happens. Suddenly my once seemingly large problems shrink in size and urgency as I take in that vista. I like the fact that I have to make an effort to reach that vantage point. I feel like I would miss something if I could instantly see that scene from my front porch or bedroom window. There is something in my spirit that craves a different view.

I trace my tendency towards wanderlust to my parents. On Saturday mornings, mom and I ran errands that became small quests – to buy a crusty loaf of bread from the little Italian deli across town, with its bevy of products bearing intriguing foreign labels, or to secure a stash of ice cream from the local university’s dairy extension building, where huge metal machinery stood by the checkout counter. On summer evenings, Dad liked to take us out on drives into the country. We relished the uncluttered acres of farmland and appreciated the subtle shades of light as the sun set. While their income could have afforded us a larger house, a more expensive car, or other lifestyle accessories, time and again my parents opted instead for opportunities to travel. In large and small ways, they taught me the value of discovering the special places which bring delight and richness to life.

There are many faith traditions which embrace the practice of pilgrimage, of an intentional journey towards a sacred place. I believe that there are many spaces in our world that can become holy ground. Shifting one’s view now and then can enrich and enliven the soul, and serve to widen one’s perspective. I witness this happening when I see suburbanites make a concerted effort to serve meals for the hungry in the inner city, or come across an urban program that seeks to create green space in the midst of concrete and steel landscapes. Next to my office, there are playschool classrooms decorated with an appealing variety of simple paper creations, which provide an imaginative sanctuary for those young souls. I notice that even my adult heart finds joy in the ever-shifting parade of adornments, from bright autumn leaves to cheery yellow cheetahs to crisp white snowflakes; reminding me once more that a change of scenery can do wonders.