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SPIRIT MATTERS: Getting lost in space good for the soul

Taking a day off in the middle of the week to play is always fun for me.

But especially when that day off is during harvest season.

While I grew up in Streator, most of my relatives on my mom’s side of the family live in the Toluca/Minonk area.

And many of them are either farmers, or have other jobs, but also make their home in the country.

So, as I grew up, I was fortunate to spend many-a-season living the country life, at least in chunks of time here or there. In fact, much of my summers off of school were spent living the rural life; and harvest time was an especially notable time in our family, as we gathered together for cookouts and costume parties and such.

I am one of those people who seriously enjoys sitting out in the wide-open space and watching and listening as the corn grows in the heat of summer. In fact, at one such family gathering this summer, I took some video of the corn blowing in the breeze on my grandparents’ property. I cannot explain it, but that movement and the soft voice of the wind weaving through it, speaks to a part of me that is too deep for words.

For those of you who think this is odd…well, you might be right…BUT...I challenge you to really try it sometime, and see how it works for you.

Anyway, I spent my day off this week driving the back roads to Bloomington-Normal, to visit my cousin – with whom I spent many of those summer days at her family’s country home, really in the middle of nowhere, with the ability to walk in any direction and not worry about our safety.

We grew up having SPACE to move around and let our spirits and imaginations wander.

As I drove, I noticed some farmers had already been out harvesting their crops. A couple of times I felt like pulling over and taking a photo of them at work and posting it on my social media accounts with the caption: “The most wonderful time of the year.”

But I didn’t.

Driving in the wide-open spaces of Illinois might not be the highlight of many people’s lives, especially if they prefer mountains, or oceans, or canyons, or deserts or all the other assorted landscapes sprinkled around the world.

I get that.

And maybe it is more because of the landscape I was raised in than any kind of innate need as a writer, but my muse revels in wide open SPACE.

In fact, as I was driving back home this week, the thought occurred to me that my spirit requires space so that it can breathe through my skin. For me, whenever it gets too crowded or noisy, my muse, my creativity, my intuition….whatever you want to call it, must retreat inside of me until it is safe to reemerge and let my mind and heart wander again all over the proverbial countryside inside, and outside of my body.

My cousin is also a writer.

She channels her skills in the marketing profession, and I – well, I write this weekly column, looking for windows and doorways into the invisible spiritual world that is everywhere, everywhere around us.

In any case, my cousin and I “get” each other, insofar as any member in our extended family can “get” another member.

So, when we get together on one of our visits, which unfortunately, is much rarer than it has been in the past, and we start brainstorming about something – anything – well, the conversation can really veer off into widely meandering paths that loop around of their own free will, but always seem to come back and rest in some circuitous order.

I guess.

In any case, just as much as my writer-spirit needs space to breathe and connect the dots between seemingly disparate things, it also thrives on deep, meaningful, creative conversations….the kind of conversations where one of us will start talking about something, and the other will add to it….and then we are going back and forth, and before you know it, we have actually somehow created a freestyle jazz composition with our dialogue.

I should quickly note that part of the reason I went to visit this week was to get her professional advice on a potential business venture.

So, when our “brainstorming” session concluded this week, after talking about pretty much everything under the sun, OTHER than my potential venture and I began to gather my keys and phone to leave, we both laughed and joked that we hoped our conversation would somehow, someway bear fruit in the way I was hoping it would.

I haven’t been able to start on my homework assignment from our conversation just yet – which, by the way, calls for some stream-of-consciousness writing.

But I will.

And when I do, I will put myself back in that wide-open space that nourishes my muse, and nourishes my soul, and remember our winding, rollicking conversation filled with laughter and memories and emotion…and a spiritual bond.

And I will get down to business.

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.

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