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Many of us have a “happy place”. A place where we feel refreshed. A place that lifts our spirits. A place where we experience a sense of peace. For me, that place is Jasper National Park in Alberta.

I was first introduced to the Park in the late nineteen- seventies when I camped there with my parents who were visiting from Scotland. I have felt its call ever since. After my marriage, and when our family lived in Saskatchewan, Jasper was always where we went for our annual winter break.

As a number of my wife’s family live in Edson, a two hour drive from Jasper, and since our youngest daughter has lived there for eight years, we are regular visitors to Alberta and so I have been in that National Park so many times that I have lost count. I have seen it in all four seasons, something that was on my bucket list. This summer’s family vacation out west included two day there.

After all these years, of course, we have our favourite spots where we like to stop and to enjoy nature and the wonderful vistas provided by the Rocky Mountains and the majestic lakes. This summer we were blessed, to the great joy of my grandchildren, to see an abundance of wildlife, including deer, several bears with their cubs, many elk, bighorn sheep, and a cow moose and her calf.

Many of you will not know that I have written two books of prayers and have just completed a third. Many of these prayers were conceived or written in Jasper National Park, where I have always felt close to God.

Where are some of your happy places? Here is a prayer I wrote about happy places that hopefully you might identify with. Thank God for such places where our weary bodies and spirits can be revived and restored.

Lord, We all have our happy places.  

Walking on a beach as the waves roll in

and getting our feet wet as sand sticks to our toes.

Hiking a trail enjoying the outdoors,

as we soak in nature’s beauty.

Sitting on our front porch in the early morning,

catching the sun’s first rays.

Watching the hummingbirds hovering at the bird feeder,

while robins sing their happy songs.

Enjoying the company of grandchildren,

with their warm hugs and enthusiastic laughter.

Spending time in the mountains, with our spirit soaring like the majestic peaks.

Indulging in memories of trips taken and memories made, as we browse old photographs.  

Thank you, God, for our happy places.

They are your gift to us,

and they are special to us because of that.  

© Neal Mathers   

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