Madrid 2009 - Parque del Buen Retiro

I studied in Spain in the summer of 2000 and fell utterly, hopelessly, wonderfully in love. I grew up in such a small town, so far away from, well, anything, that until that summer my perspective of who I was and who I could become was boundaried by the borders of the farm state in which I had spent my whole life. Going to Spain was the beginning of a stretching process—as if the piece of my heart built for dreaming was a balloon, each day abroad breathing a little more air into a slowly expanding capacity to see something more for my life.

Madrid, for me, was the epitome of Spain. I was enchanted by the city’s bustle, its grand boulevards, its unbelievable concentration of art, and its Metro. (Oh, the irony of being charmed by public transportation, considering all the tortuous hours I’ve spent locked in its delayed-by-signal-problem claws in the decade since.)

About four years later, living in New York, I started having dreams, both waking and sleeping, of a park with a lake. The park with the lake was familiar, but I didn’t recognize it until the image flashed again one night in a prayer.

El Parque del Buen Retiro, Madrid’s equivalent of Central Park. Directly translated, it means “the park of good retreat, or refuge.”

When I arrive in Madrid on June 21, I want to stroll through El Retiro; to let my spirit catch its breath in this place of retreat. I want to be refreshed—reminded of who I am and who I can become. I want to stretch, just a little bit more. Just a little more capacity to dream.

Then, renewed, I want to invite others to do the same. To know the power of true refuge.


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