Many years ago I read “A Circle of Stones” by Judith Duerk. The repetitive “How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you, a place for you to go to be with…” evoked a sense of longing in me. It spoke to the need for women to gather in community, to share their stories with each other, and to support each other’s journey to wholeness.
“What if there was a place…” “What if there was a place…” This phrase rooted itself in my heart, silently waiting for the right time to echo forth. On walks in the woods, I felt the land offering to be that place … a place where people could commune with nature, connect with each other, and help each other to grow. “How might that happen?” I wondered to myself, as well as the land.
Year after year, “How might that happen?” continued surfacing in my mind. Then my parents died. After my sadness abated, which took a couple of years, I realized that the money they left might just cover the expenses of erecting a building. But in order for it to be built, a large and stately pine tree would need to be chopped down.
My husband and I debated about Grandmother Pine. She felt sacred. We wanted her to stay. Yet forced to choose between the building and the pine tree, we ultimately opted for the building – with one condition. Grandmother Pine’s stump would need to stay. I wanted Grandmother Pine to be remembered.
While the building was under construction, a fluorescent yellow ribbon with the word “CAUTION” circled the stump, alerting all contractors to exercise care when navigating machinery in the area. I removed the ribbon once Harmony Center came into being.
I thought of the stump as an altar, and sometimes placed ceremonial objects either on her or around her. For the most part, however, Grandmother Pine’s memorial remained undecorated. This summer, when Foxglove surrounded her with loving energy, it felt as if they were honoring Grandmother Pine.
At this year’s Fall Equinox, I placed a sunflower at her base. Then recently, I stood contemplating her flat top, asking how she might like to be honored, and suddenly thought, “A Circle of Stones! Grandmother Pine gave her life so we could have that place, a place to gather in community. A circle of stones would honor the sacrifice she made.” And with this thought an image came to mind – a circle of stones around a rock cairn on top of the stump.
I walked around, gathering stones from various places on the land. As always, I checked in with each stone, making sure it wanted to be part of this altar. Then I placed larger ones in the middle creating the cairn, and around the cairn a circle of stones.
Completing my mission, I stood back to take a look. I saw the cairn as a new being growing up from the center of the stump. And around this being, a stone circle creating sacred space within which this being can grow.
“What if there was a place…” “What if there was a place….”
Thanks to Grandmother Pine, we now have that place, a place where people gather in community–Harmony Center.
Beautiful, Lesley. I remember vividly the the day when we gathered around Grandmother Pine to thank her before the clearing began. Now she is among the Ancestors whom we remember at this season.
Thank you, Sharon. I’m grateful for all your support of Harmony Center. You were physically here during that Fall Equinox ceremony when we offered our apologies to Grandmother Pine. And though you rarely visit here now, I feel your support in so many ways. Thank you!
Just now returning to this, remembering vividly our ritual of saying good-bye to Grandmother Pine. Wonderful that you are still in intimate relationship with her.