Sometimes, I am completely gobsmacked by how COOL and AMAZING and AWE-INSPIRING the world can be.
I opened up my email this morning and there, in my inbox, was a letter from a lady in Philadelphia:
“I am not sure who left the letter at the red covered bridge but I would like to leave one after if with a present of 4 pictures for whomever desires them. One from the same angle during all 4 seasons. Nonetheless, I wanted to receive permission to do so and also express my appreciation for the beautiful 3 minutes reading that gave me.”
I am becoming more and more convinced that there are certain special places that have the power to bring people together. That the places where we walk or run or stumble by every day have the power to unify and connect us across boundaries, places, and spaces.
So in that vein, I’m sharing the letter from M, who has been so vulnerable in sharing her story and so amazing in bringing The June Project in a new direction.
I came across a letter on Saturday June 2, 2018 written to this bridge inside a golden envelope that was sandwiched in between both a vertical and horizontal beam at the left entrance just off the Drive.
This anonymous personal reflection was full of reflective beauty, emotional depth, transparent heartache, and intricate inspiration. I, in addition to thousands of others, have a significance that lies here and a story to tell as well as an appreciation to express.
I have faint memories of visiting Valley Green and the Red Covered Bridge as a young child in the early 1980’s. My mother was raised in the area and frequented the park quite often finding solitude in the consistent serenity along the flat paths paralleling the creek, hiking up and down the trails, and visiting the statues on the top of the hills. When I moved to the area after college, just before the release of the smart phone, I tried to find Valley Green’s Forbidden Drive a couple of times but got lost and over time, the desire to go back faded. Nevertheless, the Park never gave up, calling on me to come back…when I was ready.
Like a board game and multiple rolls of the dice, my life had to play out at its own pace to get me back here.
There were no “pass go and collect $200” cards.
I had to live through both challenges and pleasures: my Godmother moving away when I was 10, my father’s suicide at 18, emotional turmoil through college, falling deeply in love at 21, having a child at 24, suffering through a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for 9 years, and completely losing myself in process.
At 34, I was granted an epiphany – a moment of clarity igniting a passion to not only rediscover my past self but search for my new self and pursue a purpose much greater than either.
A friend, and now the love of my life, encouraged me to start running 7 years ago which unexpectedly led me back to the trail I remembered but could not find on my own.
What has ensued since then is a link to my soul from mile marker to mile marker, trailhead to trailhead, corner to corner, bridge to bridge, statue to statue, goose to goose, waterfall to waterfall, meadow to meadow, and passing stranger to passing stranger.
But it is the bridge that is my pause. It is the bridge that connects my past to my present and my present to my future – inspiring not only my desires but confronting the uncertainty. The bridge has replaced victim with victory, insecurity with invigoration, weeping with wakening, excitement with elation, angst with appreciation, and powerlessness with perspective.
I am including 4 pictures (one for each season) with this letter. Anyone is welcome to have these for either themselves or someone who will truly appreciate them.
Just as the bridge binds together both sides of the park, so too does it bind all of us who have ever walked, ran, or biked past or through it.