A safe place where you can find your smiles

When I was a child, there was a vacant lot next to our house, thick with high desert sage brush.
I found a cave there and made a home. It became such a sacred place for me that it didn’t matter that I was so highly allergic. Sage shelves held my treasures: found heartshaped stones; wildflowers; imaginary friends and the stories I would tell them; & an always packed inhaler to get my lungs through blooming season. Vacant lots were a thing in that neighborhood, and after a while I came to appreciate having space and nature to explore instead of neighbors.

There was another lonely space down the street that I claimed as my own, dotted with seemingly random but perhaps strategically planted climbing trees. Gathered old two by fours from a few neighborly building sites became ladders on the trunks, and more little gingerhomes were born. This time with a view. I’d bring my books and sometimes a friend and stay until the sun went down.

There were always lots of sacred spots like this. Sometimes, they were indoors. One in particular was under the bar that held all my Dad’s Tanqueray and tonic, the glass jars, and bowls full of matchbooks from every bar my dad had ever stepped foot in. There was a cupboard there just big enough to hold me, wrapped in the quilt Grandma Piepkorn made to get her through North Dakotan winters (I still have that quilt). From there, I could cuddle up and watch Sunday football with my dad. These are some of the places I’ve played and prayed through my childhood, and perhaps contributed to the way I use space today.

I find these places throughout my life, or perhaps they find me. Everybody needs a rock, they say. Some places of solace and refuge, places to think, and wonder, to smile, and breathe, to be
and become who we are, and grow into who we’re meant to be.

There’s another space lately that seems like home. Inside here, when I am all wrapped up with these words, and held all safe and warm. I can’t quite tell if I found it or it found me, but it has me breathing deeply through each of the syllables in gratitude. And smiling. Always smiling.