Monday, September 17, 2012

The value of rest

“Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.” -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Mammoth Park

I spent 4 days last week in one of my favorite places in the world. The Willow House Cottage in the tiny little village of Lycippus in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Connie Baker created this little paradise on her property in the beautiful Laurel Highlands a decade ago by converting her pool house into a cottage oasis. The cottage sits at the end of her driveway and faces her stone house and the road. While it is not secluded, it feels as if it is, especially when you open the sliding glass doors and step out onto the floral retreat of the back patio. Heaven.

Morning devotions on the front porch

On Tuesday, I stepped back inside the Willow House Cottage and was transported to a magical place inside myself that emerges every single time I go there. My husband and I discovered the cottage in 2007. This was our fifth visit. Every time I go there, everything in me resists leaving. It is there that I find a deep desire to have a different life than the one I have. I love the simplicity of life while I'm there. A limited amount of clothing in the closet and drawers. Just enough food for days I'm there. An absence of clutter. Much less stuff. It reminds me of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's wonderful book, A Gift from the Sea, which, interestingly enough, was one of the many, many books Connie stocked the cottage with. Of all the things in the cottage, books top the list. Books and DVDs, which I never even looked at. But if you are a movie buff, you would love the selection, the big flat screen TV and the surround sound. What? A big screen TV in the cottage? Yes. If I've mislead anyone in the past about the Willow House Cottage, let me clarify. This is not a rustic cabin in the woods kind of place. It is a beautiful little cottage with modern amenities. There is a small kitchen with a full-sized refrigerator, narrow 4-burner stove and oven, double sink and a table for two.

The kitchen is separated from the living area by the couch, which faces a large 4-poster bed. Yes, it's all one room. One very comfy room. Completing the cottage is an armoire full of books and games, an electric fireplace, an easy chair with ottoman that matches the red floral couch, miscellaneous tables and chests, and a desk for those of us who cannot leave work behind!  Oh, and wireless Internet. There is also a large bathroom/dressing room, where I soaked in the tub while reading books and sipping wine. 

Out back
Okay, I know I'm supposed to be writing about my Sabbath Experience and I've wandered down a different path. I just wanted to share with you how simply wonderful this place is. In my opinion, many people miss the point of a vacation. They spend their time running around nonstop and they miss the value of resting. I feel so blessed that Bill and I agree on what to do on vacation... nothing. At least, nothing other than restful activities.

While this was a working vacation for me, the time we spent together while I wasn't working, was spent sitting outside by a fire Bill built, walking on the paths through the wildflowers, sitting on the wicker furniture on the front porch reading, playing Bananagrams, listening to music, and walking around the amazingly beautiful Mammoth Park, which is just 2 miles up the road. Oh, and petting Connie's sweet little cat, Cee-Aye-Tee, who loves, loves, loves all the attention Bill pours out on her. Yes, I'm married to a cat man. Cee-Aye-Tee is not permitted inside the cottage, but she spent a lot of time on the front porch with us.

Mammoth Park
What is truly amazing about this place is that any stress I may feel before I get there, completely dissipates once I step inside. 

We were scheduled to come home on Thursday, since Bill had to teach Bible Study that night. But, like I said, once I'm there, everything in me resists leaving. So he left and I stayed. Connie was gracious enough to extend my stay and Bill was gracious enough to drive home Thursday and return for me the next day. 

Despite the fact that I'm a writer, I can't explain in words what being there did for me. If I could live anywhere on earth other than where I am right now, it would be in that little cottage surrounded by flowers and trees and hummingbirds and golden finches and the mooing of cows, the screeching of owls, the buzzing of bees, and yes, even the sound of traffic on the road. I have inside of me, the hunger and thirst of Lindbergh when she wrote, "I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before."

The bees loved these!
I only had one day to myself at the Willow House Cottage. But it was truly blessed day, and I found myself smiling more over the last 2 days, with a profound feeling of peace, despite circumstances. Yes, Anne, life rushed back richer, more vivid, fuller than before.

I encourage you to find a place of rest and renewal and visit there as often as you can. If you're close enough, give the Willow House Cottage a try. See if it is as magical for you, as it clearly is for me.

One final Lindbergh quote for you moms out there who long for what I describe above:

"By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class." 

Wishing you rest, dear ones,


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