The trees radiated silence and safety, all around us, the echoes of their age and grace and strength. We walked on a carpeted depth of needles and bark, a comfortable covering on earth that felt deep and damp.
Man's hand was evident, through concrete channels and corroded pipes it ran and fell, filled with fish in the pool below that were not native to this place, though they did not know it.
"What is the tradition here?" I asked her, seeing the built stones, the small dishes, the careful clearing and caretaking that is evident when people are moved by space, by place. When we find it sacred. When we connect.
And she stopped. Unsure. The question, the thought, was new to her, I think.
She who had travelled to my land in search of sacred space, and found it. She who had brought me there, in her land, to a place she knew as special, as beautiful, but had not considered "sacred". She who had given me the gift of this place, had shared her local treasure with one from foreign shores.
And she told me it was a box spring, a simple functional thing. Man-made, on the grounds of the college campus where she works. No more than 50 years old, which is old in her land, to her people.
But it is sacred, because people have made it so. Or have people honoured it so because it is inherently sacred, flowing there among the Redwoods...?
The story above is not from the rich pickings of Ireland, but from when I was teaching and visiting in California this year. I was cut off from my ground, my earth, my roots, and I sought connection there.
What is your nearest 'sacred site'? I'm not talking the big stuff, leave off with Tara or Uisneach, or the old native American burial ground 50 miles from you.
Is it your garden (or balcony, or farm, or park)? What grows there? What lives there?
Where do local people gather in times of crisis, or doubt? Where do they go to pray?
What is the history there. What was there before? What was there before the before?
How do people interact with the site? Do they keep it clean and tidy? Do they hunt or fish or forage the wildlife there? Do they meditate, or draw, or sing and dance?
These are the makings of a sacred site.
Yes the big ones are important. Of course (and you're talking to the Number 1 fan Rathcroghan has ever had, right here), of course we build relationships and feel their pull, their ancient magic, the depth of their energy.
But if you don't have an ancient hotspot on your doorstep... what do you have?
Explore it, answer some of the questions above, and let me know ;-)