Spiritual Geography

 The first morning I woke up in the Berkshires, in September 1998, my new boss took me on a drive. When we emerged from the woods on the brow of a hill, I literally gasped – at the spread of the mountains, the shades of green, the little houses and barns spread out before us.


I loved the landscape of New England – rolling rocky hills, the low, ancient Appalachian Mountains, clear creeks and streams, sugar maples, roads with curves. But my heart would skip a beat whenever I saw… an open field.


An open spot with some tall grass said: home!  A pinhole glimpse of the wide open prairie of the Midwest. 

The Midwest is my spiritual geography – the land where I grew up. I would find myself thinking, in western Massachusetts, “I can’t SEE anything with all these trees and mountains getting in the way!!!” 

Do we all carry the geography of our childhood with us in some way? Maybe we love it, maybe we hate it. But either way, there is a certain geography that shaped us, just like the people we love. There’s been research that shows people have emotional relationships with places the same way they do with people.


Bolingbrook seemed like my “anti-landscape” when I first moved here. When I was in high school, I was snobby about being from The City: subdivisions, malls, and houses built on cornfields were anathema.

But in the suburbs, I can have a house that I can imagine is a farmhouse. There are real, old farmhouses, here and there. I can have a garden. My local park has prairie wildflowers, a creek that shrinks and swells depending on the weather, and sweeping views of the sky. I can soak up Midwest geography like a sponge.



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 I feel at home.