Letter from the Editor
Header Image by Ashley Halsey, Feature Artist for Autumn 2014 Issue
From my personal perspective, sitting here on the southeaster shore of Connecticut, I view this New England issue as a celebration of the home. Taking the time to appreciate our home and local region is one of the most important practices for remaining aware. The keenest form of insight is finding the dearness in what might otherwise be regarded as mundane. Without an appreciation for our home we are left unnourished, seeking fulfillment by something outside oursevles, when all along a great deal of what we need lie within arm’s reach.
Thinking the grass is greener elsewhere, leaves us ever in the shadowlands. Know the worth of ground beneath your feet rather than idealizing the distant shores. Society seems to have subconsciously adopted this notion that in leaving behind all that we have ever known, we will find ourselves—that there, at the ends of the earth, each of us can define the edges of ourself. I think this is an unrealistic ideal.
Like so many, I used to regard foreign shores as more sacred than my own backyard; afterall, how could we find the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane. As readers, we live vicariously through the adventurers of our generation. We read the chronicles of those who left the comforts of home to strike out into the untamed and unknown, and through absorbing their experiences we are emboldened to heed our own yearnings for new landscapes. Our imagination is sparked by those travelers who set off with reckless abandon. Yet for so many of us there is a reality gap between the life of those we follow on the page and the life we ourselves must lead. The 9-5 job hardly supports our basic survival let alone the heights of our dreams. We work from the time we rise to the time we go to sleep just to support the basic needs of our body, all the while having to neglect the needs of our soul.
Not all of us have the means to pick up and travel to different countries while heeding that desire to find ourselves. In these hard financial times, the majority of us must find ourselves while sticking relatively close to home. Leading me to ask: Must we go to the ends of the earth to gather the strands of our identity?
The purpose of a pilgrimage is about setting aside a long period of time in which the only focus is to be the matters of the soul. Many believe a pilgrimage is about going away but it isn’t; it is about coming home. Those who choose to go on pilgrimage have already ventured away from themselves; they go on pilgrimage as a means to journey back to who they are.
Many a time we believe we must go away from all that is familiar if we are to focus on our inner-well being because we feel it is the only way to escape all that drains and distracts us so that we can turn inward and tend to what ails us. We never think to rejuvenate ourselves at home.
When I felt the need for a pilgrimage and a time of respite, I never considered my home region; however, for personal reasons, I could not go to foreign lands so instead, I walked the same roads I had since I was a child and arranged my life itself as a period of time in which the only focus is to be the matters of the soul. All that was detrimental that could be left behind, was. I broke ties with everything and everyone that insulted or confined my soul, allowing me to go forward and find my path into a healthier way of being.
Unable to go outward, I went inward. The radius of m physical world so limited by circumstance, I spent many years walking the internal landscapes. When at last I was able to “loosen the belt” a bit and stretch the legs of my stiffened dreams, I found myself exploring, not foreign countries, but the rich country of New England, of which I am a native daughter.
The circumstances that kept me from traveling forced me to value what is at hand and in doing so, I gained a healthier longterm perspective.
I learned that we do not need to go to the edges of the earth to learn who we are, only the edges of ourself. In these times, when I cannot simply pick up and go, I make do with a walk about my hometown. When in the lands of our local community, we must work a little harder to feel a sense of wonder; for sadly, when we see a thing daily, its beauty fades into the background and become mundane. Nevertheless, rediscovering the beauty of what has become ordinary has its own sweetness.
Seeing anew the beauty of what we have gazed upon each day, which has become tried to us—this is a revelation. After all, what was Walden Pond before Thoreau chose it as the place for his introspection? When he chose to go off on his own into the wild and reflect, he did what was within his means. He lived off a small plot of land owned by Emerson, along the banks of a pond just outside Concord—his hometown.
—L.M. Browning, Founder and Managing Editor
Stonington, Connecticut • Summer 2014
L.M. Browning grew up in a small fishing village in Connecticut. A longtime student of religion, nature, art, and philosophy these themes permeate her work. Browning is the author of numerous award-winning titles. In 2010, she debuted as a writer with a three-title contemplative poetry series. These three books went on to garner several accolades including a total of 3 pushcart-prize nominations and the Nautilus Gold Medal for Poetry in 2013. She followed this success with her first novel, The Nameless Man. In 2013 Her title, Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity: Journal of a New England Poet, was named a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards (Best Regional Non-fiction) and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Balancing her passion for writing with her love of education and publishing, Browning is a graduate of the University of London and a Fellow with the League of Conservationist Writers. She is partner at Hiraeth Press; Co-Founder of Written River: A Journal of Eco-Poetics as well as Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Wayfarer: A Journal of Contemplative Literature. In 2011, Browning opened Homebound Publications—a rising independent publishing house. She currently divides her time between her home in Connecticut and her work in Boston. Her latest poetry collection, Vagabonds and Sundries: Poetic Remnants of Lives Past, is now available. To learn more go to www.lmbrowning.com