There have been a few times in my life when I found myself in places that resonated so deeply within me that I seemed to be formed from the earth beneath me. It is rare and spiritual when it happens and is quite difficult to explain to people who have never experienced this phenomenon.

I am not referring to awe inspiring vistas or beautiful landscapes solely for the sake of their appearances. But something much more meaningful. Some refer to it as deja vu, that uncanny feeling that you have been somewhere before or experienced an event before the current moment in time – while knowing it wasn’t possible. Yet this is deeper that even the most powerful deha vu I have ever experienced.

For instance, there is a rock formation in Doughton Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The wind seems to move through the cells of my body there, as if I belong to it and it belongs to me. It is my thinking rock, a place to sort out whatever might be bothering me. I almost feel weightless there. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it had once belonged to a family member.

It happened in France at Mont St. Michel. When I put my feet into the indentions in stone steps worn by generations of other feet having hit the same spots as mine, it was as if I had been there before. There was no memory in my mind, but somewhere deeper inside. I can’t help but think there is a connection there with my family but I haven’t found it. Perhaps they help build it, or operated one of the little businesses that cropped up at the foot of the abbey. I may never know.

Over the years an old house has appeared at odd times due to some circumstance having nothing to do with the house. A few years ago I needed to see someone about another business concern and was told I could find him at this old house. He turned out to be the new owner of it and invited my mother and me in for a tour. He had remodeled it entirely, but the aura of belonging in it was there. I could almost feel my hand trailing on the original banister or turning a knob on an old heavy door. When I was looking into my family tree and searching for some old tombstones, guess where they were – on the property that belongs with the house.

Experts tell us that our bodies remember and react to the anniversary of a trauma or a weather pattern that occurred when something bad happened to us. It’s this cellular memory that leads me to believe that there may be a connection to these places in my past.

Can we inherit ties to a place through our DNA? Can we walk across areas known intimately by our ancestors and feel the connecting thread to its existence and our own?

I think there is a lot about our genetic make up that scientists can’t quite define. On the television show, ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, we get to see famous people discovering their roots. Sometimes there are profound connections with their occupations, field of study or interests, and the places that they discover they are from. One that stands out in my memory was about Brooke Shields. She had always been interested in French literature, language, art. She even majored in it at university. There was no family connection that she knew of, until the show traced her father’s lineage back to France – a real shock as she had thought he was from Italian descent. Was her interest fueled by a primal drumming of spirit to its place of origin? Can we dismiss the feelings we have of being in a place before, when we quite obviously have not?

It is a mystery, but I can’t help but look forward to the next place I discover that feels as if I have roots there.

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