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Beginnings - TravelStorys

Healing Trails

Location Trip Time Travel Type
New Jersey 1 hour


Where does healing begin? Nature is endless cycles: new life matures, gives birth to new again. Yet we instinctively know where to begin. A seed falls to earth, touches the soil, and sends out its first trembling shoots. The touch that connects begins a new cycle. Touch tells us we're not alone, even when illness focuses us on pain that we alone experience. We're all connected to the earth and through it, to each other. Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing as a child. Isolated within herself, she suffered profound loneliness until a healing process that began with touch. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan, led 7-year old Helen to a well fragrant with honeysuckle; she let Helen feel flowing water while tracing the sign for water in her hand. Helen wrote, "Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten -- a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!" D&R Greenway's Healing Trail was created to enable just such joy to take root, flower and set seed: to let nature be a healing teacher. The trail traverses the hills and meadows of the former estate of General Robert Wood Johnson, II. The site was preserved in 2001 by a partnership of public and private organizations led by D&R Greenway. Together they created Greenway Meadows Park and the Johnson Education Center. Son of the co-founder of Johnson & Johnson, General R.W. Johnson turned the family business into one of the world's largest health-care companies. The business got its start manufacturing sterile wound dressings. Today, healing a wound still begins with the gentle touch of a doctor, nurse or parent, laying on a bandage that takes the place of skin. Then nature grows new skin that returns our ability to feel the world around us. On the trail, feel the terrain in all its variety -- roots, grass, stones, and soil. Brush your hands along the feathery seed pods of tall grasses. Touch your cheek to the rough bark of a tree. Dip your nose into soft flower petals. Every touch is a fresh beginning, a new world that opens on infinite possibilities. Throughout her life Helen Keller took delight in the tactile experience of nature. She wrote, "What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet ... to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!"

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