The tour about town was fun and informative, but a little odd since I’ve basically lived there since age seven. Still, it was a kick. The docent was new (I have a sneaking suspicion this was her first time) but she was quite good. The most fun thing I learned was that Lillian Fontaine brought up her daughters Olivia deHavilland and Joan Fontaine here! As an classic film lover, this was astoundingly cool to discover.
But I must say I came alive on the hike. This area of California… well, we are incredibly blessed. It’s unbelievable how stunningly beautiful it is. With the forests that have survived their giant ancestors being cut out 100 years ago, it still thrives. From the most elegant, almost lacy, little plants along the path like the Maiden Hair, to the great Redwoods, it’s lush and vibrant, and quite frankly life-giving.
I nearly didn’t go on the hike, fearing I mightn’t keep up and hold up the group. But the group was four of us, all completely enamored of the nature surrounding us. I gamboled all over the mountains, becoming the kid I am. The others laughed at me as I chattered like a five year old, completely in my element and happier than I’ve been in quite a while. They expressed their shock at discovering I wasn’t 15 years younger than I am (probably would have thought younger had this been their first experience of me). But most of all they found it too funny that I thought I’d not be keeping up with them. I mean, I probably walked twice as much as them in my excitement and contented joy.
But the very best part was when the sent me ahead to see if the path continued on or not, and I discovered something… interesting. There was a bit of a clearing, and in the center of it was an eight foot stick standing upright in the ground with a colorful ribbon tied to the top of it. Beyond it was a small circle of trees, as happens with Redwoods, that had long branches placed in such a way that all sides of the circle had about a four foot high wall, save where the entrance was coming from the clearing. On the two larger trees that formed the door there were imitation flower leis about seven feet up.
As I approached it, I took in the four foot high stump with three candles, broken pieces of celestial stone work, and another flower on it. To the right of the entrance I noticed a broken stone disk of the sun, but it was what was posted below the lei on the right hand tree forming the entrance that caught my attention. The others hadn’t caught up, so I had time to read the wooden plaque. It read:
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
no disease that enough love will not heal;
no door that enough love will not open;
no gulf that enough love will not bridge;
no wall that enough love will not throw down;
no sin that enough love will not redeem…
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble;
how hopeless the outlook;
how muddled the tangle;
how great the mistake.
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.
If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world . . .
Wow. As the others approached, I surveyed where we were exactly. It turns out that it was at a meeting of five paths, none of these paths were man made, but extended out from this clearing. It was fascinating. And beautiful.
This was, in our communal opinion, a place to receive a (pagan*) blessing for love – whether with your partner or in hope for the future of an individual. It wasn’t until we’d explored several of these paths and returned that I finally decided that I wanted some of that, so I entered. I took it all in, looking up at the sky through the tall branches that met in the center of the circle far, far above me, to the hand-dyed celestial tarp that was lightly buried beneath the debris of the forest, to the lovely scarf wound around a fallen branch that slanted from the back in (and was perfectly placed to hang a lantern from) and the necklace also attached with a charm reading “I ♥ Ashton.” I felt as if love was brought there, sought there, and found there.
I felt more than thought my prayer, and with the joy of an explorer who has made a delicious discovery, I scampered on to again overtake my group so that I can come back with more to show them.
*When I say pagan I refer to the original meaning of “belonging to the country,” or those who believe in honoring and respecting nature, not the blanket term adopted much later by those of the Christian faith to mean “ungodly.”