I’m strolling down a well-marked foot path. No one else is around. I feel the sun on my face and shoulders. Occasionally, I pass trees that provide shade. The path gradually becomes marred by rocks and fallen branches. I keep plodding along, feeling a sense of peace despite the undefined trail. Birds sing in nearby trees, making me feel even calmer.
I finally reach the edge of the wood and glimpse a vast meadow with green grass and a few trees dotting the edge. A stream runs through the middle, and I hear its gentle babble and the wind whispering through the trees. I wander farther into the meadow and discover a picnic basket on the ground near the creek. Maybe a family was eating here and wandered off to find an outhouse or sheltered place to do their business. I look around, watch, wait, but no one appears.
The smell of fried chicken wafts from the partly opened lid. I open it the rest of the way and find two drumsticks, a small deli container of macaroni salad, a can of Dr. Pepper, still cold, and a zip lock bag containing a dill pickle, black olives, and cherry tomatoes. I look around to be sure no one else is approaching. All is silent except for the twittering birds, rustling wind, and babbling stream.
I sit on the ground next to the basket and dig in, thinking the food was left there just for me. I savor the flavors and wash everything down with the Dr. Pepper. I then lie back on the grass and bask in the sun’s radiance. After a brief nap, I wake to find the picnic basket with the garbage gone. Whoever brought the basket must have come while I was sleeping and collected the trash.
The above was inspired by a guided imagery exercise in which I participated at a retreat I attended recently. Now, it’s your turn. Close your eyes and picture yourself walking down a path in the woods. What do you see, hear, smell? As you walk, the path becomes more treacherous, but you feel calm. Pay attention to the atmosphere around you. At the end of the path is a vast meadow. What does it look like? As you wander into the meadow, you find a picnic basket containing your favorite foods. What’s in the basket? What do you do next? Write about it. Please feel free to share in the comment field below.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of:
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
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