A friend recently asked me what it was like to spend time in and photograph places in high energy areas - do I have experiences of spirituality while I'm there?
Shrugging her off with a mumble about “I suck at writing - I keep meaning to, but I have a perpetual writer's block - blah, blah, blah”
The truth is, of course I do. I cry with joy at almost every NPS site I go to - regardless of where it is, how large or small, urban or wilderness.
“But who wants to hear about that?” I ponder.
This whole episode prompted me to look up what spirituality means - and somewhere in the Google search I read: ”deepest values and meanings by which people live."
This is how and why I came to love our National Parks.
Often I’m asked if I have a favorite park, to which I make a joke about choosing your favorite child, explaining how each of the 417 National Park sites bring something different to the system; but I actually do (although they can change as I go to more sites and learn more about our country.) If you asked me today - the long-winded answer becomes:
“Yes, I have a few (and start with a big 59 park, since that’s what folks know.) The Everglades moved me in a way beyond words. I had no idea about the extent of its beauty and I almost didn’t leave. (hahaha - true, though.)
I also have a favorite smaller park - Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in Richmond, VA. Do you know who Maggie L. Walker is? (More often than not, the answer is no - so I continue.)
Have you heard of Booker T. Washington? (nods.) Have you heard of W.E.B. DuBois? (nodding again.) Mrs. Walker was a contemporary of these gentlemen, and while they became the face and voices of the African-American experience during that time period, she created financial and educational systems for African-Americans in the deep south. She was the first woman to be president of a bank. Her efforts were instrumental in a time of transition and ideological turmoil in our country."
“I had no idea.”
“Neither did I - but that’s what National Parks give to us, the narrative of our country through sites and stories of our history which enrich and empower us.”
And then I see wheels spinning with a huge grin creeping across the person’s face. Selfishly, I feel as though I’ve given the person a gift.
And inside, I cry with joy.