By Karolyn Castaldo

Last weekend, my friend Julia and I decided to head up to Sunday River to enjoy the spectacular scenery and beautiful outdoors that western Maine has to offer. We stayed on the mountain and spent plenty of time gazing longingly at the mountain, wishing snow would appear out of nowhere so that we could ski. Unfortunately, it didn’t, so we turned our attention to one of our favorite summer pastimes: kayaking on the Androscoggin River.

As we floated along, it seemed as though we were the only ones on the river. The sole sounds to be heard were the splashes from our paddles and the occasional wildlife that was hiding on the river’s banks. After about an hour, some friendly people in canoes greeted us, also noting that it was an unusually quiet day on the river. “Everyone else must be in church,” said the older man of the group, “but this is our church!” He laughed and they paddled quickly away.

This statement got me thinking, not necessarily about religious practices or the people that uphold them, but about the different ways to appreciate life and the fortunes that come with it. This man, though jokingly, considered the Androscoggin his church, which to me means that it’s a place where he finds peace and can be alone with his thoughts, even if he’s with a group of people.

Then I began to think, why doesn’t everyone have a Sunday Spot? Somewhere they can go to be alone with their thoughts, counting their blessings. This is not to say that only one spot can be good for these sorts of contemplations, or that one merely has to sit and dwell on these sorts of things. A Sunday Spot in my mind is a place or activity where you can totally lose yourself in the moment, appreciate what you are doing, and just relax: a place of total bliss.

My Sunday Spot happens to be on my skis. Even on days when my boots are hurting, the wind is whipping the chairlift, and I’m cold through about 10 billion layers of clothing, the rhythmic motion of turns down the slope puts me at ease. I am one of those people who will finish a run filled with a burning in my thighs and smile because I know that I am in a place that puts me at peace. Growing up in the East has taught me to appreciate all kinds of conditions and I can be happy with what the mountain is throwing at me, as long as I can be on it.

So even if you find your Sunday Spot on a Tuesday, across the world, or within the pages of a good book, it is important to appreciate that feeling, returning to it as often as you can and to holding onto it when you cannot physically enjoy it.

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