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Let Place Speak Something to Your Soul

by Melissa Price Nelson

While traveling, I have asked hotel desk persons what historic or recreational sites are in the region and worth visiting. Some have shrugged and pointed to a brochure rack, more than one has said, “I really don’t know.” And some have been incredibly helpful, even cheerful, with suggestions. If a visitor asked you to tell them about your village, town, city, or countryside, what would you say? It begs the question,” Do you know what is in your own backyard?”

No matter how humble, each area has its story, history, and presence. Sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that our own backyards include myriad “treasures” to explore and share. Not that we need to identify every detail about our parks, recreational spots, and historic sites, but an overview prepares us to appreciate what surrounds us. It gives us a reference for our past, present, and future and helps us to understand our friends and neighbors.

If you’ve been to a neighborhood with colorful murals, you begin to appreciate the meaning of “place” and those living, working, and moving through the streets and byways of a town. You learn the stories of the citizens who have made a difference and spots which exude history. My sister showed me the place where colonists met at a stream crossing and gathered to form a rag-tag brigade to fight for independence. “You can almost see and hear the people who came here,” she said. “This place has a lingering presence about it.”

Two years ago, I visited a nearby state park I had never been to before and chided myself for not taking the opportunity to do so previously. Now I know to share the treasure with others.

In our busy lives, we can’t always take the time to look beyond our own backyards, but even a general knowledge of our surroundings makes our lives fuller and richer. My son once stopped along a roadside to read a historic marker and came home to tell us that by doing so, he gained an appreciation of what had happened on that very spot. “I learned it was hallowed ground,” he said. “And I have felt differently about that area ever since.”

If you can, take the time to learn about, appreciate, and share your little corner of the world. Let “place” speak something to your soul.


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