Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spirit Home

There’s a place just up the road, past the small reservoir and beneath the gaze of West Rock. You won’t know it’s there unless you look. After a large snowfall or heavy rain, you can hear it shout; but for most of the year it unassertively murmurs from the concrete dam. How you get there is not a mystery, nor are there any obstacles or barriers other than a chained gate you can easily slide through. And yet, it is a secret place.

Once past the gated threshold, a short walk through brambles and tall weeds leads you to the creek bed, the life-blood of my Spirit Home. I call this place my Spirit Home because I am most at peace here; however, its beginning does not mirror this posture. The cold reservoir water cascades over 3 separate falls—each measuring about 10 feet tall—and shoots up and through cracks and divots in the solid shale rock.

This place is far from being my own personal discovery. After settling into its new surroundings, the water pools up and slows to stream underneath an old pipe that runs perpendicular to the creek. This pipe—wide enough to walk across carefully—along with a few concrete retaining walls, are covered in graffiti. Colorful faces and ornate nicknames. Can’t say from how long ago, but I like to think they are relics from a time before I knew this place.

From here, you can either descend along with the creek into its now steep ravine, or you can ascend along with the shale walls and walk into the pine forest that overlooks the crooked stream. The forest takes on new shapes during the seasons. Full of muggy insect life during the summer. Crisp and crackly in the Fall. Bright with reflection during the Winter. And damp with fungus in the Spring. The voidness of this pine forest is what gives it its character. As with most pine forests, there is no underbrush, for the evergreens are notorious in their hoarding of ground water. You can see as far as the next exposed ridge of shale and yet your sight is dissected by trees, giving you the appreciation of your surroundings while still offering the comfort of place.

And this place is why I keep coming back. For the past 8 years I have tried to come back to my Spirit Home at least once per season. It’s sort of a rejuvenation period. A reminder of why life exists—with all of its goods and bads. That creek has taught me more about myself than I would sometimes like to know. Every time I go, I discover something new. And in my Spirit Home, there is no distinction between a discovery of the land and a discovery of myself.

I cannot imagine ever finding another place quite like this one—but then again, I guess that’s part of the definition of a Spirit Home. It’s not pristine; it’s not even that secluded from civilization. But I guess these are not factors when your Self finally settles into a Home. It’s simply a place where everything makes sense.

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