The Ole Thinking Spot
Max Robinson, my cow boss, had a certain place on his cow range he called his “thinkin’ spot”. He showed it to me one day when we were riding in that area. We tied our horses to a tree and walked out to the very edge of a big plateau. Below us a jewel of a mountain lake lay, about 1000 feet drop in elevation from our vantage point. We sat down in the grass and gazed on this magnificent scene. The lake was a cobalt blue color. Part of its surface was slightly ruffed by a breeze, the other part was smooth. It was surrounded by tall pines, fir and aspen trees. Beyond the far side of the lake were hills and mountains that extended for several miles to a hazy blue horizon. An eagle soared above the lake catching the up drafts as he rose higher and higher in the fresh mountain air. Just watching him glide lifted me a little. It was a warm day, but there on the edge of the drop off it was a bit cooler in the soft breeze.
The lake was not large- about a ½ mile wide and a mile or so long. I knew it held large rainbow trout. I was only able to fish the lake one time, was too busy herdin’ cows and fixing fence etc. The lake’s name was “Hidden Lake”, and indeed it was hidden from view until you got out on the edge of the plateau where we were, and then its beauty captured your attention.
As Max and I sat in the grass he quietly explained to me that it was here, at this gorgeous spot he was most able to relax both physically and mentally, and I think emotionally also, and just think about things, with no distraction. It was peaceful there, serene with no disturbance of any kind. We just sat there for a while and let nature soak into us in complete silence. Max picked a long piece of grass and put the stem in his mouth and began to slowly chew on it. We didn’t talk. Soon I also picked a long shaft of grass and did the same. Several more minutes passed as we continued in silent observation and thought. Many people I know would not sit in a place like that for very long until they would start to fidget, become restless and have to start doing something. Other people like Max and myself could sit in a spot like that for quite a while before feeling the need to move. I think we were kindred spirits in that regard. Not that Max wasn’t a hard workin’ man, he was, and not that he didn’t have plenty to do, he did, but he appreciated solitude in a beautiful place and time to think and consider seriously about many things in his life.
My dad called it “pondering." Pondering is not easy. It takes discipline of mind and perseverance to think for any length of time. It’s work! Pondering has many rewards. When pondering on issues of importance, it is then that we often receive “inspiration” or fresh ideas about solutions to problems or better ideas about what to do or how to go about doing somethings that we never thought about before. We are so often distracted that our mind cannot work well because it’s just “too busy” with too many things. In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord calls it, “Study it out in your mind.” In another place he tells us to, “Ponder the riches of eternity.” He says that this mental work out is very important to the process of receiving personal inspiration or revelation. Negative thinking brings negative results. But prayerful pondering, concentration on solutions and meaning in life is very productive. Jesus said, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” These are powerful words.
After a while, Max stood up, I followed suit. We walked back to the horses who were standing quietly and patiently as all good cow ponies must learn to do. We mounted up and slowly rode away from there. I realized that in his own way Max had told me, without telling me, that it’s important to have a private place in a natural peaceful setting where a person can retreat to occasionally, to consider things and let nature help in its unique soothing way. I’m grateful he did that for me. I have tried to follow his council, which is not always easy to do- you have to “schedule” a block of time that is just for that very purpose and don’t feel guilty about it as if it’s “wasting time”. It’s probably one of the most productive and wise uses of time there is.
I have often thought of the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in solitude in the Judean Wilderness, fasting pondering, praying, and studying. It was during this time of preparations that he received the strength and resolve and ability to successfully perform his ministry and mission in life. God is much better able to communicate with us when we are quiet and contemplative.
In our world today there are so many “devices” electronic devices that vie for our attention. TV, internet, videos, cellphones, electronic games, movies, radio, on and on, that many people do not know how to retreat to quiet, private beautiful places to ponder, pray and “study things out in their minds.” Even if they did retreat to such a place, they wouldn’t be able to stay long enough to absorb the quiet priceless communications that come while there. We live in a time of chaotic bombardment of the mind and spirit.
If I were to try to put in words the feelings Max had, he would probably say it something like this: “Get yourself a thinkin’ spot. Some where’s way off by yourself where Mother Nature and God and you can quietly talk to each other. Don’t fidget! Sit still and pay attention! You’ll be better for it. Then, saddle up and get to work.”