A Sacred Place

ivy tree near water

Today I went to the hills and found a sacred place.

Having fought my way up a steep climb on my bike, I was almost toppled into the road at the sight of a gnarled, many branched oak tree. It stood opposite the entrance to an ancient track, not marked on my map as a footpath or bridleway but unmistakably a track where people had walked for maybe a thousand years. The track was sunken, lined with the remains of a laid hedge, fused at the base into shapes to make Henry Moore weep.

Do you know when you’re entering a sacred place? I did. Two twisted hornbeams marked the entrance to a grove of  beech trees, the Queen tree, a female place.  A once pollarded hornbeam, its many dark limbs reaching up, grew to one side. A mossy trunk lay prostrate at its base, serving as an alter, alive with an offering of waxy white, sacred white, wet and dewy toadstools. My camera refused to work, it was not a place for the modern world.

God was here, in this spot and I thought, ‘be careful what you wish for in sacred places.’ The air heavy with folklore, goblins, mischievous forest faces, likely to twist your hopes. I wanted to wish but I resisted. Warned not to, I listened. You cannot capture another human being with a wish.

God is in the woods but we are still free to choose our path.

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