Some high school friends and I bonded the other day when we realized we all have the same reaction to cower and hide when we saw someone we recognized in town. Even if we liked the person growing up, those questions all pointing towards “What are you doing with your life?” will inevitably emerge in any conversation struck with an old acquaintance. Every time it happens, it conjures a sickening feeling both in the pit of the stomach and the back of the mind, making us feel horrible and lazy for not having yet found “a real job.” Because of this, our instinct to run away grows stronger the longer we stay in town. I have written about these ideas before in a blog entry called, “The Snarky Recent Graduate.”
Thing is, though I stand by my comments in that old blog post, this small discomfort that occurs each time I come home doesn’t deter me from coming home in the first place. Home, that is, Sleepy Hollow, especially in the summertime, is really a strikingly gorgeous place. My brother and I agreed recently that going away really makes us appreciate how much we had growing up. Sleepy Hollow sits at the Hudson River’s edge, overlooking the three mile expanse of water and the Palisade hills on the opposite shore. In the summer, all kinds of boats take to the water, making it a kind of watery playground for river folk like me. We have a kayak and a windsurfer, so in the months between May and October, I am very likely to be found out in the water. We grew up just a half mile from a little beach club, the place where I learned to swim and had a job lifeguarding for six years. Significant percentages of each summer growing up were spent underwater. Many summer nights were spent watching the sun set beyond the Nyack hills.
In addition to the river, Sleepy Hollow has another significant pull for a nature lover like me. Most of Sleepy Hollow is actually state preserve, thanks to the Rockefellers donating their enormous piece of property to the Nature Conservancy. Nowadays the estate is a huge stretch of woods complete with lovely carriage trails, Swan Lake, the occasional grassy field, and the meandering rapids of the Pochantico River. It provides a perfect place to go running, walking, or cross country skiing. The Rockefeller Preserve is an enchanted forest, as far as I am concerned. This is true even on a cloudy day, though the best times are just before dusk in the summer. At these times the sun comes in at a low angle, illuminating some of the leaves while casting deep shadows on others. The contrast of light and dark at such times stuns me. The golden haze surrounding this scene, paired with the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze makes for such a mystical mood such that I never regret venturing into these woods. They are quick to remind you how beautiful the world can be. I am so thankful to call this natural refuge home.
Though I don’t usually crave a metropolitan setting, the occasional urge to join the city folk is easily satisfied by just jumping on the train to New York. The train picks up right next to the beach club and heads directly to Grand Central station in midtown. From there, you can take the subway to get just about anywhere you want in Manhattan. This comes in really handy when we want to go to a museum or a show or take visiting relatives or friends down for a day of NYC tourism. The ease of the commute is really spectacular.
So despite the occasional need to duck and cover when some old teacher or neighbor wants to see what’s become of me, being home is actually really quite a nice setup for summer days. I am very aware of how blessed I am. I hope never to take this place for granted or forget that even my very home was sculpted by God himself. Sometimes, it is easy to get so comfortable that we forget our dependence on God. It is for this reason that whenever we want to return home to rest, wherever home may be, we should remember that it is through God we find our rest, and we should praise Him when we have homes in which to find it.