Sometimes human beings need secret places. Places that restore the soul, gives you clear thoughts, where anger and sadness fly away and you are able to find the best of you there. In these places without a doubt you always find happiness. I call those places sanctuaries.
Here in Germany I have discovered one. To get there, you have to take a road through a forest. The forest is a mixture of pines of different species, one sporadic oak tree and wild bushes of wild blueberries, blackberries, even strawberries. Sometimes in this forest we pick mushrooms for breakfast. The country flowers that appear in spring or summer paint the path of colors. When my daughter asks for it, we stop to pick them up and take them to our home’s table.
Part of the road to reach the sanctuary is covered with modern asphalt that we all know, because the roads of our modern world use the same thing. Another part, however, is covered with old stones, glued together by cement, giving the ground a more or less flat surface, but still making the tires of my car tremble from top to bottom. This piece of road makes me think of the kind of roads that horse-drawn carts would use in ancient times and suddenly the feeling of history fills the air.
Upon reaching my secret place we park under the shadows of the trees. When I see them, I know that I am just steps away from reaching it. We walk in the middle of the forest, my children pick up sticks that look like swords, or little flowers that they give to their mother. They run, they chase each other, singing, or talking they play their stories full of knights and princesses. Her innocence moves something inside me that only another mother can understand.
Then we come to the most beautiful part of the forest; the beech trees. They are tall, leafy and incredibly beautiful. There is a part in this forest where only they surround me and when I see their thick trunks I want to believe they are the kings of this place, for their antiquity and greatness. Seeing them makes me say a prayer of thanks for allowing me to contemplate such beauty. Seeing them makes me quiet down in reverence. Seeing them makes me feel small. Seeing them reminds me that their creator sustains me and as long as I am in His hands, there is nothing, and no one in the world that can bring me down. His strength sustains me. Also, whenever I get to them, I can’t stop thinking about Antoni Guadí, the Spanish architect who brought the forest to man’s houses or cathedral. I would like to imagine that his inspiration was born next to the beech trees and that both he and I, in the past and present, admire the forest to the core.
When we finished passing the beech trees sanctuary we reached the lake. There are four benches on its sandy shore. The sand gives you a small feeling of ocean. Sometimes I find the lake calm, and I can see the reflection of the trees that surround it. But my favorite way to find the lake is being bathed by sunshine. The air that moves the surface of the water making the reflections of the light remind you of the twinkling stars. The reeds around the lake sway dancing. There are a couple of swans that have made this lake their home and in spring you find them with their little babies swimming on its surface. They still live there.
Then I get rid of my clothes, get into the water and swim. I breathe the pure air of the forest, I enjoy the fleeting summer sun, the cold water revives me and suddenly I find happiness.
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