When people think of home, it usually is their house, a family home or perhaps their hometown. I arrived back in Duluth late last Friday night to my house, but wasn’t truly “home” till the next day when I was out enjoying nature. As I walked the trails along the St. Louis River as it passes through Jay Cooke State Park, I came to the realization that this was part of my true home. Not just this park, which is quite beautiful, and not just northern Minnesota, but all of nature. It is the place where my spirit resides and is renewed after absences. As I look back at the past year, a year that started in early March when I got the call from my father’s doctor informing me of his hospitalization, followed by three months in hospice before he passed away which lead to spending a lot of time at their home. While there, I began doing sports photography on the side and as often as possible, I would head north on weekends to be back in Duluth for a couple of days. As I think back, I realize that one of the first things I would do upon my return north was to head out for a visit to Lake Superior, a hike along a river or into the forests or perhaps just climb the hills near my house and sit on a rocky outcropping and enjoy the view. Those are the moments when I feel at home. No matter where I am, I know that I am never far from home. I can see it as I drive along the Great River Road of the Mississippi, the scenic back roads of pre-freeway America, driving through a national forest or sitting at a roadside stop with a view of the countryside. The place my spirit calls home, is everywhere, it can’t be contained in a man-made structure, it’s far too vast for that. Perhaps those places are good for being with others who share your belief, but so are the places I go to commune with spirit. I know that many I pass on the trail share a similar belief, but in a much larger cathedral. Our altars are waterfalls, giant redwoods, dense pine forests, winding rivers, shimmering lakes and granite cliffs. Our pews are fallen logs, rocks, flower filled prairies and sandy beaches. We tithe by supporting our parks and natural areas, picking up trash as we hike, by taking nothing but photos and leaving nothing but footprints.
All images are of Jay Cooke State Park, February 27, 2016