The idea that Spirit is all around us is found in many different spiritual traditions (the title for this post came from the Gospel of Thomas, for example, but there are many other sacred texts that speak of how God is everywhere). Sometimes it can be easy to take for granted the beauty in nature, and forget how amazing our planet really is. Summer is a great time to take advantage of the nice weather and get more in touch with Earth and Mother Nature. The time between Beltane and Litha is full of bursting energy and vitality everywhere! Just taking a walk in appreciation of the beauty and peace that exists on our planet can sometimes be all you need to feel refreshed or relaxed. If you are by yourself, try an “active” meditation, where you allow your thoughts to clear and then try to focus on seeing/sensing the energy emanating from the grass, trees, flowers, animals, etc around you. Feel your connection with all of Nature as you move through it. This connection is never broken, just sometimes forgotten. If you are with someone, try to focus your conversation on what you see around you, instead of on work, family, or financial issues you may be dealing with.
Not sure where to go? If you live in the Southeast region of America, try starting by checking out one or all of the following places below:
Smith Gilbert Gardens
Found in Kennesaw, GA, the Smith Gilbert Gardens are a little off the main road. Though small compared to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, its secluded location allows for much fewer crowds and a better chance of a more personal experience in connecting to Spirit through the beauty of its foliage and artistic sculpture dispersed throughout. Cost is low, but varies depending on if you go on a day when there is an event or guest speaker. Along with the peaceful path through trees, bushes, and flowers, the gardens also include two koi ponds, a waterfall, and a bonsai tree collection. If you are in the metro-Atlanta or North Georgia area, I highly recommend visiting the Smith Gilbert Gardens for a relaxing afternoon in seek of Spirit.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is a surprisingly eclectic and artsy city with plenty of things to do to fill a day trip or full weekend stay. While I did enjoy the museums and I’ve heard the aquarium is worth visiting, the monument commemorating the beginning of the Trail of Tears made the biggest impact on me. I did a brief meditation at each station and connected with the tiled Native American symbols that are part of the monument. It is a beautiful and contemplative place, though it was a bit busy on the day I went. Walking along the river, you can read about the history of the area on plaques while enjoying the blend of water and earth elements. There are also river cruise opportunities!
Daytona Beach Pier
The city of Daytona Beach, FL has recently taken over the pier and done a huge renovation. As it is a very popular tourist destination, this is not necessarily the place for a quiet meditation on the beauty of the water. It is, however, a great, inexpensive way to connect to the element of water through the ocean. There are many hotels lining the beach that can fit any budget and Daytona is one of the last beaches in the country that you can still drive on, allowing you to just park on the sand, take the chairs out of the trunk, and enjoy the sun. The pier goes pretty far out into the water, which is why I recommend walking to the end (beware of fishing lines being throne in random directions!) and just losing yourself in the rhythm of the waves and the tide. I hope the city continues to update the area, but until then I would say the pier is your best bet for some nature-bonding time. If you are looking for something a little less crowded, try Flagler Beach in St. Augustine, found a little ways north of Daytona. The historic downtown area is full of metaphysically-minded people and the beach is much less popular for out-of-state tourists.
Rock City, Georgia is set high in the mountains on the boarder of Georgia and Tennessee. It consists of a beautiful walking trail through rock formations, with some surprises along the way. At the trail’s highest point, you can see seven states on a clear day. The picture above is of the waterfall called Lover’s Leap, named after two young Native Americans who could not be together due to tribal disagreements. They both leaped off the rocks to be together in eternity. To read the full story and see all that Rock City has to offer, I recommend taking the scenic drive up to this theme-park type attraction. There are plenty of places to stop, sit, and contemplate the beauty surrounding you as well. This is a very unique place and definitely worth visiting, if only for its unexpected whimsical nature, involving gnomes and Mother Goose.
Of course, you don’t have to travel to anywhere new to connect with Earth. Visit a local park or just go into your backyard (if you have one) and look around. Take a walk around your neighborhood or visit a local lake, river, or ocean. Or, buy an indoor plant for your home and connect with its energy.
Please share with us your experiences at the above places as well as any new suggestions for where to go in a comment below!
All photos in this article were taken by the author in 2012. Thank you for respecting her ownership of these images by not reproducing them.