Our travels have taken us many places old and ancient, places of history, mysticism, religion, and lore. Some are places of nature and the environment like mountains, forests or gardens, and others are man-made like ancient ruins, stone circles or cathedrals.
Often these places are given supernatural qualities, a fanciful conviction to which I do not subscribe. Rather for us they are a connection to the past, especially the history of the people who, for whatever reason, found connections between the physical aspects of a place, the unseen threads of their shared culture, and the interpersonal aspects of their families, friends and kindred spirits that makes such places inspiring and important.
Indeed, in that regard, the term “genius loci”, Latin for the spirit or guardian deity of a place, takes on a special meaning. One’s imagination cannot help but to linger on the concept of peoples who, centuries upon centuries earlier, undertook projects that remain today. Whether those purposes were clear or are a mystery, when we sit within a stone circle that is 4-5000 years old, a Roman theater from the first century AD, or a cathedral over 1000 years old we cannot help but feel the spirit of the place, a connection to humans not very different from us.
For Jeannie and I as we no longer have a “place”, we have come to identify and embrace many locations that we have called home. Each has come to have special meanings to us, mostly because of the connections we have made with the people we have encountered … and maybe also because we have been accepted by the “genius loci” of the place.