In keeping with my last post’s theme, here’s another tale of everyday magic.
There’s a neighborhood near my house with a lush vacant lot that erupts with tulips and daffodils in the spring,
a gigantic bald eagle totem carving,
a tall bronze bell hung in a Japanese-style garden,
and a ceramic woman who greets you from the shrubbery,
among other tiny wonders that surprise me each time I visit. It’s grown familiar to me, but I love its promise of mystery.
A month or two ago, my husband and I started chatting with a woman doing yardwork in this neighborhood. She asked if we’d been on the nature trail at all. “The what?” She pointed out the entrance, which was basically just a gap between two guardrails. A gap I’d walked by dozens of times without a second glance.
Once off the main road, I was struck by two things: how extensive this trail really was, and how close it had been to me this whole time without me knowing. When I looked it up on Google maps, I discovered that different portions of the trail had different names: the Layover, Koldkar, Gnome’s Glen, Devil’s Dip. Just when I thought I’d discovered all this area had to offer, a whole new layer of enchantment revealed itself.
As I walked the trail yesterday, alongside and yet removed from the main road I’d walked so often, I realized what a perfect metaphor this was. How often do we walk the habitual pathways of our lives, unaware of the alternatives that lie just beyond our perception? What potentials for magic and possibility exist alongside us right now, at this very moment?
I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by John Burroughs: “The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is ‘Look underfoot.’ You are always nearer the divine and the true sources than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.”
What’s underfoot in your life right now that you may be overlooking? What alternative unseen paths may be patiently waiting for you to discover them?
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