Thursday, January 23, 2014
For most of my life there's been a deep restlessness, an urge to seek out some other place than the one I occupy, a sense of disconnect with my surroundings. Then, more than thirty years ago, I drove down a lonely narrow road in upstate New York. A rough, tumbled stone wall up in the woods bordering the road was nearly hidden in the dappled shadows. And in my chest, a terrible yearning seized my heart. Here was home.
I longed to stop the car and follow my heart into the trees on the other side of that tumbled line of stones...to what? I didn't know. No matter how many times I drove down that road, I was always struck by an inexpressible longing and sorrow. I finally stopped down a ways one day and walked back. Standing on the side of the road, I debated the wisdom of haring off into the lonely woods by myself.
Then, with my walking staff in hand and my sturdy hiking boots protecting my feet from hidden hazards, I climbed the steep hill up to the stone wall. With every step, the sense of anticipation built until I crested the hill and saw the tumbled boulders on the other side of the wall.
From below, they were invisible.
My breath caught as I stared at the small circle of lichen covered standing stones. A tree shot up from the center, it's roots twisted around a large flat stone positioned like an altar. It took me a while to find a safe place to climb over the wall--and longer to push my way past brambles and weeds to the heart of the circle.
In wonder, I traced the fading marks so carefully chiseled on the stone. I don't know what this place was in the past. I only know I needed to stand there in the cold shadows and breathe in the stillness. There was a great longing to connect to the ones who had created this abandoned place. But I had a family and responsibilities and couldn't stay.
I had my camera in my pack, but something kept me from recording the circle. It wasn't a place to share with others. After a while, I made my way back down to the car, content for the first time in a very, very long time.
I never returned to the circle. It was enough for me to drive down the road, knowing home was just over the hill.