The Golden Path

The Golden Path, a pastel by Stephanie Thomas Berry

The mountains are woven with trails, and many of them are secret. 

Some of them go to secret places, and you might need a guide to take you along these trails, because oftentimes, unmarked as they are, they fork and twist and tangle and you are less likely to find their hidden treasures. 

It’s rather like an initiation to a certain place.

The energy it holds, the beauty. Someone has to guide you there–perhaps more than once–if you want to partake of its particular treasures. 

But other secret trails need no guide, only the will to follow them, through boulder fields or thickets of rhododendron.  They might be swallowed by laurel, or dissolve into the small wet stones of a creek bed. 

Maybe some of the secret trails are secret because they belong only to you, are made by your feet, and the careful pruning of branches. 

It’s January, and the trail I have climbed is not exactly secret, but I am assured of my solitude when I walk this trail, since it doesn’t really go anywhere particularly special. There is no real view, no remarkable waterfall, no hidden treasure of wildflowers. 

But to me, this spot along the ridge is a holy place. The trees that grow there overlook my own home, my garden, the river. The water that drains down these slopes feeds the spring I drink from.  Here, the ridge levels, and widens, to a cathedral room. There’s something intimate, and golden about it. 

There are an infinite number of such rooms in the forest. There are threads of golden paths in your psyche. Everything forks and twists and tangles, and you might never find what you are looking for. But when you walk a secret path in the forest, you walk the same path within yourself.

We can only gather the breadcrumbs of beauty, and make our offerings to the crows, to the animals of the night, to all the small dark things stippling the shadows, who can take what we have gathered to the secret holy belly of the Land, so she might be fed by our humble thanksgiving. 

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