It happened in the woods. I remember it as if it took place just yesterday. My first major up close and personal experience with the unseen.
It wasn’t that I had never been around trees. Houston, being only 50 miles from the coast, had lots of rain and fog. Perfect for lush growth of all kinds of trees and plants. Heck, there were trees in our back yard. But this place was different. This was dense woods. More nearly a thicket. The parents of my best friend, who lived two houses from me, owned this undeveloped land near the banks of Buffalo Bayou and they had invited me to go there with them for a day.
When we arrived I immediately found myself in completely unexpected surroundings. As I turned slowly in a circle I saw pure, wild, unblemished Nature. All kinds and sizes of trees with a variety of other plant life covering most of the ground. I was speechless. I was thrilled. I just stood there awe-struck with my mouth hanging open. I was brought out of my daze by my friend tugging on my sleeve and telling me to follow him. He said he wanted to take me to a special place he had found. He said it was magical.
As we walked along a dim path the plant life got even more lush, for we were getting closer to the bayou. Soon, the path took a sharp turn to the left and suddenly we were in a small clearing. It was completely surrounded by dense foliage and had an otherworldly air about it. There was what appeared to be the remains of an old wall, built out of large moss covered stones. Just behind it was a huge tree with long beards of Spanish Moss hanging down from its limbs.
Quietly we made our way over to the wall and sat on a low, flat bolder that was nearby. My friend reached down and removed his shoes and socks, indicating I should do the same. Not a word was said between us. We just sat there in silence, wiggling our bare toes in the moist earth and drinking in the atmosphere of the place…and atmosphere it most certainly had.
Suddenly, there was something very special there. I felt it arrive. I closed my eyes as it wrapped its specialness around me and held me close. I could hear occasional hints of the most beautiful music. There was an almost overpowering presence of love and caring that filled me with an incredible warmth and sense of well-being.
I don’t know how long we sat there for time seemed to stand still. Eventually we heard my friend’s mother calling for us to come and eat. We opened our eyes, quickly put our socks and shoes back on, and reluctantly left that place.
What did I encounter that day in the woods? I didn’t know what it was but it touched me deeply. Soul deep in fact. I was very young, but whoever or whatever it was, I knew I liked it and wanted more.
And so, on that magical day, in that magical place, so many years ago, I took my first step on my own Path To Forever.