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Change can be exhausting.  Taking care of four children aged two to thirteen years old is exhausting.  I was so happy yesterday to have another chance to escape and explore the canyons at Starved Rock.  I wanted to go see Tonty Canyon as I read it is the prettiest and most photographed, but my husband and I only made it to LaSalle Canyon.

Crazy summer weather in the 60’s, raining off and on, I couldn’t escape the house until my mother had arrived from Texas, and I got her settled in.  I met my husband halfway down the 90 minute drive to the canyons, and we did not get there until almost 5pm.

Visitor center for advice was closed, but we had a map and found the Parkman Plain’s parking area.  There were two other cars in the parking lot, one looking quite worse for the wear.  A sign on the gate proclaimed it would be locked at dark, and all remaining cars towed.

Neither of us were dressed properly for hiking, and we slipped a bit on the muddy trail, but not badly, and it is beautiful.  It’s a half a mile walk back to the canyons along the Illinois River.  The plus side to the cool, drizzly weather and midweek was that we only saw one other group of three young adults, besides that, the park was our’s.

Sacred space.  That word tends to get a bit overused these days, but you feel it there.  Like the Redwoods in California, God is just a bit closer to the surface with the sound of the waterfalls and the high rock canyons surrounded by foliage.

I find it easier to breathe.

I did my best to relax and meditate a bit at the waterfalls while my husband was off exploring the another path, but I confess I had to observe a few thoughts about the murders that have happened at the park and if it was smart to be there on my own.  I also have a bit of a tick obsession going on lately, and was sure not to touch any foliage or stray from the path for fear of them and poison ivy.

Luckily, thanks to Patty Turbak and Essential Oils, I had my ‘voo-doo witchcraft stuff‘ as my husband called it –  actually doTerra TerraShield, a blend of Essential Oils to deter bugs.  I am not sure of how effective it is, but the smell is lovely regardless.

On the way back, I tried to do a walking meditation concentrating on my feet connecting with the earth, listening to the sounds and enjoying.

All in all, it was quite a successful relaxing escape and dearly needed.  Thanks, Ma for the Child Care.

On the way out, you have to climb up quite a few stairs, and I was out of breath, that plus the mud caused me to ungracefully almost fall as I was passing Him.

An hour before dark and lock down, this Asian man going in to the trails barefoot with a backpack and a guitar case.  He smiled and asked me if I was okay after I regained my balance in my near fall.

You know I can pass McMansions and luxury cars all day long and not give them a second thought other than gee, what a pain to clean and furnish, but I confess I gave a sigh of envy on this encounter.

No car in the parking lot right when the park is about to close.  Not only no worry of ticks nor bugs, but he was barefoot feeling the earth and mud between his toes about to go commune with Mother Nature and his guitar.

I am not there and probably will never be there, and I’m sure a large majority of people think I am half baked as well to be envious of that, but what freedom from fear and convention he has.

I am so grateful to go home to my clean, comfortable, safe home and precious two year old looking up at me, “I miss you, Mommy”, but I was also grateful to have crossed paths with Him, a reminder to every once in awhile put aside my cares and concerns of safety and to-do’s and business for just a few minutes and Just Be and Breathe.  When I get too tied up in the minutia of my daily life, I am going to take a deep breath and think of this Man with the muddy feet and guitar along the Banks of the Illinois River.

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