You would never find it unless you knew just where to look. The old logging road is now grown up and the waterway is stealthily guarded by rocky boulders. But such is the way when in search of the sacred. Lucky for us, we stumbled upon it some twenty-five years ago – this sacred piece of wilderness my husband and I would come to call our special place.
At the time, I can’t say we were in search of the sacred. No, it was much more like a desperate search to escape the bugs. My husband had convinced me to try wilderness camping – a far cry for me who’d never been campground camping. But, he was so enthusiastic and insisted, without doubt, it was going to be wonderful. So, off we went in search of that dream wilderness campsite somewhere hidden deep in the Maine woods.
About forty miles in on dirt logging roads we arrived, right at dusk, and saw what looked like a path heading straight into those dense, now ominous looking, woods. But, darkness loomed so we had no choice. In we went. After some distance, we saw the remains of a campsite long cold. My husband rushed to make a fire and we set up our tent. As night settled around us, I remember he kept fanning the smoke my way (sweet guy that he is) to deter the thick veil of bugs now eagerly circling us. I was not smiling.
And I heard God laughing (Hafiz) I don’t remember much about that first night but the next morning we decided to hike up the path. Soon we noticed a very narrow opening leading through some dense bushes. Curious, we followed. Within just a few feet we emerged out onto a wide open area. Perched high, we found ourselves looking out over a lake, a small waterfall to the side and, at the other end, a beautiful pond merging into a river downstream. I’m not sure we took in all the natural beauty at first. Mainly, we were just relieved to feel a cool breeze and to, finally, not be swatting the bugs.
But, no doubt, heaven had arrived.
For many years we would return to canoe, bathe and frolic in the pond and to just rest in the sound of the rushing waters. For me, there has been no place more sacred. Then, in 2000 I started going to New Mexico each summer for yoga teacher trainings and over the years family events and health issues kept us from our sacred site – that is until last week.
How my heart was pounding as we quickly made our way down the vaguely familiar path, past the mosquito pit, as we have come to affectionately call that first site, and then – no bushes – just suddenly we were there and – What? A picnic table! No! I had to laugh as I was the one most perturbed that it made our site look so domesticated! Then, as we paused, we noticed that our beloved friends the pine trees had all grown up and had gently scattered their needles across the ground. Looking through their boughs, we saw the lake, waterfall and pond just as we remembered. And, slowly, the familiar sound of the water came rushing into our memory inviting us to step deeply and release softly into its cool, dark, depths. We were Home. Gratefully, our site is now protected by a Down East Land Trust, whom we assume added the picnic table, but also assures this earthly treasure will be protected. Still, even more remote now, it was clear no one had been there in a very long time.
Being much older, for this return visit we decided to stay in a rustic cabin on a nearby lake at a lovely lodge called The Pines. This was a treat all to itself with gas lights in our cabin and a view from our porch that was so pristine I had to continually remind myself it was real. The ringing of the bell for breakfast and a delectable dinner, packed lunches, as well as access to an actual bathroom and shower were also special treats to round out the wilderness edges. Ahhhhh, but during the day we journeyed over to our site and each time we arrived I felt like we’d just re-discovered that hidden treasure, hallowed secret, waiting just for us.
And, how the discovery of the outer sacred mirrors the inner sacred, does it not? Approaching the adventure of our spiritual walk and practice, we are often drawn out of our comfort zone into what can feel like those ominous woods of our inner territory. It’s dark in there! What will I find? And, of course, our first encounter is the mosquito pit – those impinging fears, the cloaked emotions hiding in the light of day and all those pesky aches and pains. Yikes! This is not what I thought!
But, if we persevere, go even deeper, the Beloved will lay before us a narrow opening For strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life (Mat. 7:14) inviting, no compelling, us into a Love that knows no resistance. But, we must pay attention to see and make the decision to follow. For this is no ordinary Path. Here we are re-routed to points unknown that, ultimately, lead straight into a beauty well beyond the wild of our imagination.
Of course, the Path to the inner sacred is not so linear. It’s more like a labyrinth. Many times we find ourselves circling out into the pit of our beloved (yes, beloved) mosquitoes whose job it is to carve even deeper into the roots of our resistance. And, blessedly, recalling those moments we have circled back in, to stumble upon that which is beyond our understanding, we find, again, it is rarely what we could have imagined.
You see the Beloved loves to play hide and seek…
Peeking though the lofty swaying tree boughs…
Whispering on the waves of the gushing water…
Nestling in the soft beds of pine needles…
To, suddenly, surprise us…catching our soul with some unnamable joy…
And, we hear a silent giggle, “Your It!”