The Pretty Place

 The overgrown trail was dotted with purple, white and yellow in the spring. The whole area was called the “gullies.” Grabbing unto tree branches along the way, my senses filled  deeply with the grassy muddy smell.

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In the famous movie “Chronicles of Narnia,” when the character Lucy, finds her way through the coats in the wardrobe the world transforms before her eyes. When I slid the last tree branch aside on the way to my childhood sanctuary, my other world stood before me.

It was a sacred spot to sit, cry or pray. For me, it was my escape from all those hurts and pains which kept plaguing me during my child and teenage years. It was lovingly dubbed the “Pretty Place” by our family.

I felt like it was mine.

I knew others went there at times, but hoped no hunter or far-away neighbor would show up when I was out there. It was about a half mile walk behind our old farmhouse. It included woods, trails, and gully-like twists and turns, some of which were vertical and very deep. This un-tillable area sat almost right in the middle of the four roads that make up a country mile.

Long ago in my dad’s younger days, it had clearly defined two-track paths for tractors and wagons to go through to the field on the other side. The path was useful then, to get from one field to the other through the valleys and trees. When I was young I could still use the path although it was quite a challenge. The trees would sway in the wind and the sun would kiss my face as I basked in the innocence of childhood. After I crossed a large creek I’d walk walk off the path to the left, through the umbrella plants, up a knoll to the right, push a few tree branches to the side and there it would be. It was like opening the door to a church.

Arriving at the Pretty Place, sometimes I would stand at the top of the hill which seemed like a mountain when I was small. Looking down, there was a stream that ran from my far left side, wound around in front of me and then over to the right side. The stream about 30 feet below, had cut away at the earth and ran in a beautiful S shape.

There was a tree root to sit on at the top perfectly formed like a chair. Sometimes I sang my heart out and I dreamed I was a famous gospel singer.  I might arrive in anger or quiet shock. At times, I sat on that root and cried until there weren’t any more tears left.

The Pretty Place didn’t demand anything of me. It just listened. I could scream or be silent, and it would return the same calm trickling sound. It would never tell me how to feel, or blow up at me. Even if my grief of losing my mom and sister overtook me, the stream of grace remained the same.

Unchanging.

Just like God is.

I met God somewhere out in those fields and Pretty Place. I cannot tell you the moment or the day, or even the year. I just know He was always with me since I was a very young child. He was the only steady rock in my life. He didn’t die on me. He didn’t shout or fight, disappoint, or sneer sarcastically at me. He just listened. He accepted me the way I was. I didn’t have to put on airs of having it all together or stuff my grief down. I didn’t have to try to control anyone else or perform in a church service for Him. He loved me before I was even formed.

God walked beside me all the way to the gullies, and all the way back.

The Holy Spirit of God never condemned me if I was angry at Him. Lightning didn’t come down to strike me. Sometimes conviction would happen softly in my heart as a loving mother corrects her children in a whisper. If there was corn in the field that year, God’s words were like a soft clack of corn stalks swaying back and forth. If wheat was planted that year, the amber waves would create a gentle shhhhh sound like a loving gesture of a father putting his finger on his lips. It’s as if He said, “Just rest in Me, I will lead you.”

Photo credit: Jane Klingenberg

Photo credit: Jane Klingenberg

Ahhh….the sounds of His voice were there in the breeze through my hair. I have always been in His warm embrace.

 

Did you have a safe or comforting place to go when you were a child?

About Myrna Folkert

Myrna is an author who desires to use her gifts to glorify God. She's created this blog to tell stories of her childhood, musings about life, motherless daughters, grief and loss, faith in God, her family history, and facts about the Long QT syndrome. She also has a hearing condition called Tinnitus. Doing interviews with motherless daughters like herself are of great interest. Join in discussions by following this blog and commenting. She would love to hear your stories about life. Myrna is a Christ follower, wife, mother, sister, friend, aunt, and cousin. She was an elementary school teacher for 27 years; now works in her church, and a few other volunteer activities such as Hospice doing "Life Reviews" and Vigils. Myrna loves to read, write, listen to music, go to concerts, and take pictures. Her favorite pastime is boating with her husband near the beautiful shores of West Michigan.
This entry was posted in Childhood, Farming, God our Father, God's faithfulness, God's protection, Grief and loss, Memories, mother loss, prayer, sister loss, Springtime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Pretty Place

  1. Wanda says:

    Myrna,

    Thank you for sharing your memories of the “Pretty Place.” With your wonderful descriptions I could almost feel myself there, sitting, listening, and being loved by the Lord.

    God bless,
    Wanda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jane klingenberg says:

    Sigh. Shellie and I had our own “pretty place” where we journeyed back into the gullies. I don’t think we called it anything poetic, just the gullies. But it was a special place to be.

    Love you, Myrna Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janie! So nice of you to stop by and comment! Yes, I don’t think all three of us ever got back there together….but I vaguely remember…was it behind her horse Tony’s fence, where by brother’s house is now? Back in the gully? So sweet. I bet that was a nice time. It’s wonderful to have close friends like the two of you, and our special childhood memories. Love you too, Janie dear.

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  3. This is so lovely! What a good memory—and thinking of something “lovely, beautiful” like the Bible tells us to do. I also loved walking in the fields behind my parent’s farm. It was my favorite place to go when I needed to do some thinking. I recognized those tractor tracks from my own favorite part of the fields.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true! It was admirable and lovely. I’m glad you had a chance to walk fields when you were a child too, there’s nothing like it. I didn’t like farming, but am very thankful that I was brought up out in the country…so beautiful to be out in God’s nature! Thanks for all your comments and support.
      Myrna

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this, Myrna. Your gentle reflections carried me to my own memories of safe and comforting places. I didn’t grow up in the country, but I was blessed to spend part of every summer with grandparents near the Lake Michigan beach. Hearing the gentle wash of waves in the early morning — or even the noisy roar of the big waves on a rough day — always fills me with His love. (You see how special our move to this area has been!) Another cozy space was underneath the overgrown lilac bushes in the back yard of our Chicago suburban home. I thought it was a real forest when I was little. It was only a few yards of bushes that separated us from the neighbor, but it felt like my own big space just for me. And it smelled heavenly. Thanks for sparking these memories, Myrna.

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    • Oh Beth! I can see how you wanted to move onto the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan! I envy you actually! I get there every chance I get, and often on the boat! The waves! And…I can picture you huddled under the lilac bushes and dreaming it was your world…I LOVE the smell of lilacs and so enjoy them coming out right now. Funny how kids will sit under lilac bushes and now I would be worried about bugs crawling on me! Ah the joys and innocence of childhood! Thanks for coming by and commenting. As a writer, you know how much this means.

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  5. Lorraine says:

    Dear Myrna iam so blessed to have such a great Christian woman to be my sons wife
    I also played in gullies with my sisters and brothers We Swang on the vines over the deep valleys not nowing the danger we were just kids having fun in Gods great world I ride pass there from time to time just to go back in time I can almost hear the laughter of my sisters and brothers some had wives they also went with us thanks for letting me go back in time with you LOVE

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mom, I am greatly blessed to have you! And what’s special too, is that you knew my mom and talk about her. You really brought me on a word picture with your comment! I could see you and your siblings swinging on vines, and I could hear the laughter! What fun, when we’re young and innocent! (and foolish) Haha! Thanks for coming to my blog and commenting. It means a lot to me. You mean the world to us!! Love you!!

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  6. Lois Blanchard says:

    Thank you, Myrna. That is so well done. I can relate to so much of this, and then again, cannot. Please don’t ever stop posting your most precious thoughts.

    This attracted me as I was awakened so early this morning. Having received a total right knee replacement on April 4, the recovery has been an experience I don’t wish to repeat—at least not for a while. Sometimes I do get to sleep and then there are nights when I read, and read. God has been working on me physically, and spiritually as well. We do have a GREAT God, and thanks for reminding me so often. Much love, Aunt Lois

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    • Thank you Aunt Lois. It is very special to me that you comment. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a knee replacement and pray that the recovery will go smoother from now on. In what ways did you relate?

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