After a while, we got after some chores. She trimmed grass around the cabin and the plank bridge and such. I took my chainsaw and cleared away some downed logs and broken trees; made a neat woodpile, too. The path to the treasure chest was all clear and open afterwards. We ate a light lunch, then did a couple other chores. Then we went back to town, bought groceries for the week, and came home.
It does me so much good to spend time out at Wilderstead. If I'd brought a hammock, I think I'd be out there yet, probably sound asleep in the shade. It's a holy place, a place of infinite possibilities, like Broceliande in Charles Williams's Arthurian poems.
I've always thought that everybody (well, at least, every boy -- can't speak for girls) needs a special place where he can dream. If he is lucky enough to have access to a particular place that can be "his" in some sense, then he is twice blessed. Such a place starts out as a place to play -- which it never ceases to be -- but then as he grows becomes a place to pray.
When my son was small, there was a field beyond a screen of trees behind our house. (It was the DePauw University sod farm.) He called it "the far land." It was very important to him as a place of imagination and independent thoughts (though close and safe as well). When I lived down in coal country, I used to go drive through the spoil banks and get out and walk around. But until we bought our holler two years ago, I hadn't had a place for years where I could really get away.
Now, it is also true, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote,
Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God,
but while I can meet God everywhere -- particularly outdoors -- particular places are important for us individuals. A particular church, a well-remembered camp, grandpa's farm -- Wilderstead, in my case -- are holy ground in ways other places are not. Wilderstead is not a place heavy with "the weight of glory" -- no, the glory out there takes weight off you, and the angels tread as lightly as fairies. It is home in a way my house is not, and cannot, be.
One of my favorite songs I learned at Philmont has a verse that goes:
When I die, let my ashes flow down the Green River,
let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam.
I'll be halfway to heaven, with paradise waitin',
just five miles away from wherever I am.