In his weekly blog, Fr Paddy celebrates the beauty of the Carlow countryside as we once again reach mid-summer.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared on� 24 June 2009

We have just celebrated the longest day of the Year. Mid-Summer brings with it, a prolonged brightness and rich colour that announces peace and rest to all our souls. This is a time for all of us to appreciate the great beauty that God has given us in our environment. Christ is present in the growing harvest, leafy trees, colourful gardens and river pathways. In the words of the poet �The Earth is charged with the splendor of God.� In a time of recession when we are all conscious of cost, I suggest at least two Sunday afternoons free of charge that will bring great spiritual joy.

Carlow has over the past number of years adopted the name of a floral County. After visiting Altamount Gardens, near the village of Ballon; it�s easy to see why. Altamont gardens are an enchanting blend of formal and informal gardens with riverside walks covering over 40 acres. This is one of the most beautiful treasures that I have ever experienced. A living Sanctuary of Oakland pines, Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia. This is a very sacred place. A place where time stands still. An experience of a living and vibrant God who offers us a feast of smells and colour so that we may savor the great gift that is to be alive with the living Lord. This is a free gift to us all. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon, with our family or as a time of solitude in the presence of our God.

The River Barrow is again a wonderful resource for all of us this Summer Time. Its beauty brings us to a tranquil place. Its sounds remind us of the gentle flow that is Gods presence. A rich reservoir endless in its blessings a source which never runs dry.

The river Barrow is another wonderful sanctuary freely available for all to worship and avail of its great beauty this summer. The river itself brings us to a tranquil place. We all live so close to this free and special gift. A walk by the river bank can indeed be a most uplifting and spiritual experience. The river as it flows brings us in touch with the rich resoviour that is Gods love. Swans and ducks, Salmon and Trout, co-exist in an expensive tapestry that the creator has given us, to love and cherish.

We have in all our gardens and fields, hills and rivers, villages and towns, places that point us to the sacred. It is so important that we take time to avail of theses great gifts this summer. There is a real wisdom in the old adage �There�s no place like home�. A daily walk for a half an hour, not just will be good for our health, but also our spiritual lives. We live in a beautiful patch of Gods creation. We all have our favorite places that are close to our homes and hearts. May we truly be grateful for this gift and benefit from its peace and tranquility that it offers us.