by N. Ray Maxie
you ever laid on a large flat rock beside a babbling brook on a warm
sunny afternoon? It can be a heavenly place of solace and respite;
chicken soup for the soul. A most pleasant time of reflection upon
things like, where you've been and the goals you have or have not
accomplished in life. Plus, it's a super good time for daydreaming
and just thinking. Laying on that rock in the warm sunshine thinking
about your future and life as a whole. Who am I? Where did I come
from? Where have I been? What am I doing here? Where am I going and
how do I get there from here? The answers to which only God can give
over time as you bask in meditation. Many frequent visits to your
place of respite may be needed, especially for me.
As your mind and body relaxes upon that rock to the soothing sounds
of water, the warm sunshine and singing birds, your thoughts slowly
meander, slower and slower. Before long you drift into a deep, most
restful and refreshing slumber. Be it for only a couple of minutes
or for a couple of hours, you will most certainly awaken fully refreshed
and with a much clearer mind. You notice the brook is still babbling,
the sun is still shining and the birds are still singing. Nothing
has changed there except your peace of mind and outlook for the future.
Every day brings a new beginning in life and you are ready to go on.
People that take the time to do this one little important thing usually
have their favorite spot in mind. There are perhaps many spots that
will work for you, but one is a most favorite, I know. My favorite
spot of all from my extensive travels in this great country, is one
I have found to be convenient and a most perfect spot for my wife
and me, especially in the fall of the year. Convenience is important
in that you might be able to visit the place more frequently to enjoy
your peaceful leisure. Remember that was the life and environment
Henry David Thoreau used Walden Pond for. My dear parted mother, for
many years, called her quite times, "luxurious solitude".
have found a few good spots that are quite pleasant
along the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. Other spots are in
the Great Smokey Mountains, on the Nantahala River, or maybe along
the Ocoee River or in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, or
on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shanandoah Valley. And in my mind, not
the least of these places is Hot Springs, Arkansas. There my wife
and I spent our honeymoon forty-seven and one half years ago. (I must
say that's almost half a century ago) There in the Blue Ouachita Mountains,
the Blow Out Mountain and along the Ozark range are some very lovely
places to commune with nature. And, by the way, the Ozark Mountain
Range is the only mountain range in the USA that runs east and west.
But remember, and most importantly, at least for me, it takes convenience
and some nicely flowing water. The sound of the flowing is key. Water
creates some mighty good, soothing magical feelings that soon serves
to mesmerize me and over comes me with tranquility.
most favorite spot of all is in "Lost
Maples State Park" near the heart of Texas
Hill Country in south central Texas. That is two hours due west
of San Antonio. Lost
Maples State Park is mighty close to Utopia. Matter of fact it is
about ten miles north of Utopia,
Texas, and only four miles north of Vanderpool
on highway FM 187. That makes it about forty miles southwest of Kerrville,
Texas. While visiting that area, if needed, my family and I can usually
find a motel room easily. We like to make reservations ahead, at Bandera,
also known as "The Cowboy Capitol of Texas", or in Kerrville
or maybe in Leakey.
State Park is an amazing natural phenomenon. The name comes from
the Big Tooth maple trees growing there that are so very, very far
removed from their ordinary natural habitat. They are thus known be
lost maples. Seeds from somewhere afar, perhaps back east or up north,
have found their way to this natural fault line. There is a cliff
or rocky bluff that provides protection and a small natural area for
these maples to grow. Along its northeastern edge is the protected
ravine for a distance of somewhat less than a mile and maybe only
two hundred feet wide That protected area shielded by the fault provides
the right natural environment that the Big Tooth maple tree likes
and nowhere else around is it found.
A small trickling brook known as the Sabinal River gently flows through
some large rocks and along the valley floor. It provides water for
an abundant forest of those beautiful maple trees to grow. I have
noticed that even the smallest creeks or brooks in some parts of the
Texas Hill Country are known as rivers. Of course the farther they
flow across the countryside, the larger stream they become.
In late autumn around the first to the middle of November the beautiful
maple leaves turn brilliant colors of bright red, orange and some
yellow. It is such a beautiful sight almost resembling the entire
valley being ablaze. A mortal passerby like me can only gawk in wonderment
and amazement. Then as those leaves later begin to drop to the ground,
the entire valley floor becomes carpeted with their colorful beauty.
And where am I while nature is taking its course in this quite little
valley? Why, I'm lying over there on that flat rock, of course, looking
heavenward with my head up in the clear blue sky. While lying there,
as I begin to doze off, my arm soon goes limp and my hand falls along
side the rock. I can feel the cool trickling water of the brook flowing
through my dangling fingertips.
Don't wake me; I'm dreaming. Don't let my dream world end.