There is an energy at the core of Life, a sacred energy felt most apparently and keenly in those places we may refer to as "wild." For some of us, that place may truly be in a remote wilderness area. More likely it will be a place that is just a bit out of the way. But it seems to me that the place, whether near or far from the beaten track, will be a place that is as yet unexploited and unspoiled by the touch of man.
My husband and I discovered such a place about two weeks ago. One of our mini-excursions into the Maine countryside brought us unexpectedly to a wooded marshland. It was just a tad off of a main road that was not quite a highway, but a two-lane road well-traveled by local traffic.
We made a right turn on a street whose name I can't remember. What I do remember is that it was indeed, a "proper" town street-sign in white and green with a name bestowed on this road. But it was not in any sense your typical suburban or even country road.
I was stricken with my first view of the marsh. Forest encroached on all sides, rising above the area on gentle hills. The trees still retained some of their autumn splendor but were at least partly given over to the stark winter nakedness that makes their skeletons so much more gestural and poignant than their leafy summer counterparts.
I got out of the car and scanned the near distance. Woods, woods, and more woods, with a wetland in the middle that coalesced into a quiet stream that wound its way through the thicket.
At the side of the road, cattails abounded, rich in their brown fur and contrasting the more sparse occurrence of milkweed pod. Some of the pods were open to the skyward flurry of their gossamer white fuzz, while others remained closed and pregnant with the seed loads of future plants.
A huge beaver lodge graced the middle of the watery pool on the right side of the road, commanding the eye's attention, as would a mansion on the vast grounds of a manicured estate.
But this was no manicured estate. Although fairly close to the town of Norway in southwest Maine, it had all the trappings of a true wilderness. Bird calls of all ilks met my ears, like beacons of a distant time in the annals of Creation. The milkweed seeds, picked up by an intermittent breeze, sailed into the blue dome that reflected on the water below. Everywhere there was life. Thorns, red winter berries, the milkweed, swaths of emerald moss and the texture of the slightly churned water. Sweet pungent air, sparkling with sunlight. The auburn of spent foliage rimming the swamp.
I could almost hear our dear Mother Earth inviting me in her mysterious tongues to partake. She wanted me to embrace her, smell her, feel her caress, hear her song. She wanted to delight me. She wanted to pay homage to herself for her dignity, sustained in the face of ages of exploitation and consumption, by her own stubborn Being.
Years ago, I wrote a young adult novel (one of four, actually) about a teenage girl who has to leave the lowland plain between Brazil and Peru, to climb deep into the Andes. She had to undertake this journey because her tribe was dying out, and their only chance was for her to try to retrieve the ancient medical secrets of the Incas, from whom she had descended. The Boutiquin, the ancient medicine chest of the forest floor was dying out and only she, Liana, with the tenacity of the vine for which she was named, could make her way into the highland to fetch the ancient wisdom.
Along the way, repeatedly, she bent her head to the Earth and heard the Hum of Being.
In my writing, the "Hum of Being" was a contrivance to enhance the plot, an embellishment in my manuscript to bring home the feminist and earth stewardship themes of my book.
But last week, in that patch of wild made of forest and river and swamp, filled with sunshine and seeds and berries and birdsong, I heard the Hum of Being for myself. Have you ever heard it? What is your experience with finding yourself surrounded by the magic of a sacred place? For me, it is the among the very best and most inspiring of life experiences.
All photos and text copyright Lynda Lehmann. All rights reserved.