There is a creek that runs the length of the mountain valley in which I was a child.
We used to play there extensively as kids, my sister, my best friend and I. We would make forts in the pussy-willows, chop them down like the jungle! Wade and fall through the water. And there is a bridge, over which I could hang forever just watching the water rush below me.
We also played on the forested mountainside behind the creek and there was an entirely different and hidden world there at the bottom of the valley.
Follow the creek, about 10-15 feet behind it and through the woods, you pass first through a grove of aspens. They were already tall then but still young enough to allow for lots of undergrowth beneath them. — So green and light in that world, with the grasses and wild roses and other wild flowers growing there… It was soft enough to easily and comfortably sit on the ground and the three of us spent endless hours of make-believe there.
If you continue on, you come to a large clearing full of lavender rocks – some kind of metamorphic rock, maybe micaschist, but I really couldn’t be sure. Anyway, this opening is narrow and long, maybe 12 x 35 feet, a field of these rocks. They range in size from grapefruit sizes to very large boulders you must weave over and around to pass through. They completely cover the floor of this space, though they aren’t really found at all on the adjacent hillside or water bank. Just a treasure trove of this rock, mysteriously deposited there by who knows whom. Being there at the right time of day, with the right light is like being in a purple cathedral, always with the sound of water in the background.
Finally, if you wander in a little further, you enter the apse of this sacred space. A tiny opening, maybe 10×10 feet in diameter, surrounded by infinitely tall pine trees, allowing only the bravest of the sun’s rays to filter through… A huge boulder guards the entrance to this vault and once inside you are held and cradled in its stillness, its coolness.
There is a tree that has fallen across the space and, at least at that time, lay rotting, open and exposed, the wood breaking into those tiny cork-like pieces. But it was still in that stage, you know, where the life had not entirely left it. It was orange and soft rather than grey and dry. You could smell the mustiness of it trapped in that place. The stump still stood and, in its center, two or three small pines were sprouting. The horizontal trunk lay split open, angled like a sofa. I spent hours there as an adolescent, hiding, running from the rest of my world. I would just sit there in that trunk, reading, writing, crying… and filled with the peace of that space, washed clean by the sound of the creek, ever present.
I dreamt of Him last night but He was a river. Huge, maybe, in that I had no concept of any banks or borders and there seemed to be no bottom. And here I was right in the middle of it, right in the middle of Him.
It was all rather deceptive though. The sound was that of a creek – dancing, bouncing, playing, laughing like only a sparkling, energetic, bright-eyed young creek could do. And yet I was being swept away by the depth and power of that body of water. And I felt it as like an enormous and ancient river. Steady, strong, overwhelming in its authority and direction.
I was left with no idea what to do. I am a strong and confident swimmer but swimming seemed to be in vain as there was no where to swim to, and at the same time, I had this certainty that if I were to stop paddling I would just be swallowed up by the force of that water, by His force.
My heart was pounding when I woke…