I’ve been trying for weeks to pen a feeling I have about knowing physical places. The words keep alluding me; somehow, this idea floats in my being just beyond words. Nevertheless, with spring bursting on my doorstep, these words demand sharing.

In recent weeks, my children have each spoken words that captured what it means to know the place where we live. My six-year-old was telling her brother about her daily walk home from school:

“There’s a cat here everyday. If you walk quietly, he’ll be right around the corner. I like to pet him when I see him. If he’s not here, maybe he’s inside eating his dinner.”

Earlier that same week, my older daughter told me of her daily walk:

“I made a chart for myself so I know what to watch for while I’m walking. In the morning, it’s snails. Then at lunch time, lizards. I think they like that time because it’s the hottest.  And after school, box elder beetles. My chart helps me know what to catch at the right time of day so I’m prepared.”

There’s something powerfully rooting, deeply reassuring about knowing the place where you live. Noticing the smells after rain. Following animal prints in the snow covered sidewalks. Observing the predictable cycle of birth and death and rebirth in the cycle of the changing seasons. Saying hello to the same people walking the same routes day after day. Watching for the same cat at the same driveway every afternoon. Catching the same snails, lizards, and beetles.

We crave this kind of connection to physical places, but cultivating this knowing depends on slowness, intentionality, and repetition. We have to walk the same paths day after day. We have to leave our headphones behind and notice smells, sights, animals, and neighbors. We have to dig into the dirt and plant flowers. We have to walk instead of drive. We have to name the emotions that these physical places bring to mind in us.

So,

if you are feeling disconnected from the places where you live or if you feel deep connection…

if you feel pressured by time and noise, or if you feel space and openness…

if you feel hurried to complete a long to-do list, or if you feel relaxed and confident…

if you feel anxious and burdened by the stresses of daily life, or if you feel rooted and confident…

Whatever you feel, I invite you to experience the power of knowing where you live. Accompany the children in your lives as they learn the power of this kind of knowing. Take a walk. Pay attention. Look. Smell. Listen. Be rooted.