Sunlight dapples the ground, sifted to the forest floor by layers upon layers of thick, green branches. The busy, noisy world is nearby. So close you can almost feel it pressing closer. But here, with the tall graceful trees and the whispering of the wind, it is peaceful. Quiet. Nothing hurries here...
The wooded path stretches before me, safely enclosed by kindly branches. Leaves crackle softly underfoot, my skirts swishing against the rough tree trunks as I walk.
The forest is humming with life. Above, the birds sing as they hop from branch to branch. The rustle of leaves merges with the sound of the nearby rushing stream. Yet it is so still here...so very still. Safe and secure. A place to ponder and reflect.
I stand still, feeling as if I am growing roots deep into the lush earth beneath. Stretching tall, towards the sun. There is no time here, it is as if the earth itself has halted.
I continue along the path, ducking under low branches. I breathe deeply, the sweet scent of pine filling my lungs.
I can see the blue sky, peeking through the leaves.
If only all life were like this forest. So steady and calm. Giving life, kindness and happiness. Moving forward in such peace.
Alas, it is not so. The world is hard, cold and sorrowful all too often. It is not quiet and unhurried.
I hear the noise of the outside world too clearly now, and I turn down another path that takes me deeper into the forest.
Soon, I find myself in a large clearing. I sit in warm and bright sunlight.
I wonder...are there others who come here often, as I do? Do they too seek solitude and peace? I wonder if they tire of the contention and hustle in the world.
I enjoy the solitude. I relish the peace. Yet there are times I wish I had someone...someone to share it with. Someone with whom I could sit in silence, and have more understanding pass between us then any words could say.
Someone to laugh and smile with...
Someone who understands that even the lowliest servant is worth speaking to. Someone to share this beauty with.
Perhaps one day I will meet one person to--Such thoughts are best left cloaked and hidden in the shadows of my mind. For I have no freedom, in that regard. I have no choice. I may not choose my own someone. I fear I shall spend all my days alone, though I be surrounded by people.
As the eldest daughter of a once prosperous home, the taks falls to me to secure a future for my family.
If I were a man, it would be different. As a woman, there is only one choice before me. I must marry well.
I do not begrudge my family this...they deserve home and prosperity as much as anyone. Yet it is a hard thing they ask of me...
Enough. I will not dwell on the things I cannot change.
I get up, crossing the clearing slowly. I look around, commiting every detail of the lovely place to memory. THe tall, commanding pine trees, the sweet yellow and blue flowers...the browned path I stand on. The trembling leaves and the cloudless sky...the faint gurgling from the stream...and the crisp autumn air.
This shall be the last time I visit my forested sanctuary...for I am to be married tomorrow. Married to a man I have never seen...
Placing my hand on the rough wooden gate, I pause, looking back. A bird sings sweetly and I smile. Perhaps I will find a new sanctuary in my new home.
I shut the gate firmly, closing it tightly upon my past. Turning, I make my way up the lane towards my home, facing determindly to my future.
There is always hope...