I have begun several days’ writing with the words…sacred place. I hear this voice inside whispering those words whenever I am here at our farm. Allow me to clarify. We have a small raised-bed garden, a young grapevine, two old apple trees, and two small blueberry bushes. Besides that, though, it is not a working farm. It once was.
Once it was a thriving family farm with garden’s, an orchard, dairy cattle, hay fields. It was the ambitious vision of a local boy who grew up to be a lawyer in Pennsylvania, and for a time was a lawyer for the Internal Revenue Service. This local boy married a local girl and while they led their working lives with great success off the mountain, they were drawn back home. This farm was the summer and weekend retreat from the business of life. It became a family village of sorts as houses were erected for aging parents and children with families of their own. It became a refuge for extended family and friends who, like the boy and girl, needed a place, a sacred place, to retreat from life.
That boy and girl, and their children, were probably never inclined to call this place anything but the farm. As far as I know none were of the spiritual bent to call a place sacred that was not directly related to religion. But, I can see it in the eyes of the son of the boy and girl when he looks around and misses the place it was when he was a child. I can see it in the eyes of the grandson of the boy and girl; the man who has brought me to this place. Together this has become our sacred place.
I have no memory of this place in its original glory. But this man has both memories of the joys he shared here with his parents and grandparents and the time we spend here now as a family. This place holds the past and the future for him. It is the place he grew to a man and the place he watches his children grow.
Being here is like being sheltered from the world. There is work to be done. There is hard work to be done if it is to last until we are old. There are bugs and cellars and winds that make the electricity unpredictable. But there is a sense of time here. There is joy in the weeds and the sink full of dishes. There is peace in the slamming of the screen door and the rain on the tin roof.
We often wish that we could live here year-round. I wonder if we would feel the same if this were not a refuge for us, but every day for us. Would it be as peaceful if this was where we worried about paying the bills, about getting dressed for work each morning, about mowing when we had community obligations? Would we be able to sustain this sacredness of this place if it became commonplace for us?
This place is my backup plan. This is the place I yearn for when things at home become stressful. The place I think of as my refuge should I find myself alone in the world, alone to raise children, alone to grieve. It is the place where we are closest as a couple and as a family. It is the place that I want to be with my love when we are old.
I am grateful for this sacred place. At home, I have sacred spaces where creativity and conversation bloom. Here, though, is the place that makes sense. All the spaces are special. I am fully aware of the blessing of this heart’s home. There are few who find such a treasure, and I try to be present in each moment here. I try to stop and be mindful of the birds singing in the morning, of the echo of my children’s laughter in the forest, of the green and the cool and ghosts of those who have felt refuge here before me.