I could give you a map of my beloved Grant Park, my “listening point.” I could describe for you its bluffs and beaches, the Seven Bridges Trail, the creek that tumbles down through it, the Swan Pond and the picnic areas, and yes even its golf course.
But you would not know Grant Park.
I could go further. In addition to a map, I could show you pictures. For example, this photo from New Years Day, when the wind numbed my hands as it grabbed the snow that was falling on the lake and beach, drove it up the bluff to my left, and then shot it like a cannon across the picnic area in front of me:
I could show you what the Seven Bridges Trail looks like in early October:
The mists of May:
Or the ever-the-same, yet always-new, Lake Michigan:
I could do all of this, and you would come to know about Grant Park, but you still would not know the park. In the end, you still must experience it yourself:
To come to know Grant Park, you must enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature. And not just once, but many times over many years. I have entered this wild wood for all 62 years of my life, and I dare to say I know this park, and yet like any old friend she will sometimes divulge something new about herself.
To know a place like an old friend or a lover is a great gift in our time of disconnectedness. How well do you know the area within two or three miles of your home? How well do you know what grows there, and when, what birds live there or migrate through, what animals make their homes there? It is easy to miss almost all of it, if we are mostly in our cars or walking with headphones on and our minds elsewhere. Wherever you live, other creatures live, too. To get to know them and your common home can be a source of great peace and joy.
This post’s focus on getting to know a place in the same way we get to know a person, which requires humility and love, places it in the gold section of the singing wilderness spiritual map.