Of bare ruin’d choirs, Shakespeare wrote, his sonnet reflecting on the remains of a church’s chancel, stripped of its roof and exposed to the elements, you gently recall his words as the soothing stillness of the outdoors slowly stirs you from your Bayham daydream.
You look out across the open field, accepting the calm, rolling wash of green set beneath the pale blue; breathing in the aesthetic beauty, drawing it in through your eyes and skin, inhaling her essence into your lungs, feeling her seep into your blood and bone.
This land, under this sky, where the first of the new lambs will soon bleat and break the silence. Its permanence stays with you. And slowly you begin reconnecting, accepting the stillness, sensing the muscle of your heart become willing to relax, not weakening, just softening, daring to trust it is safe here, free of the tension that comes with emails and cases, phone calls, conflicts and resolutions.
And you shudder, recalling the horror of a workday with the sudden clarity of this insanity, the gulf between perception and reality, this thing called capitalism, that grew out of the ashes of slavery and sovereignty. A model that serves the few and blames the many, shames us into believing it is the fault of the powerless that they are without, not the fault of the privileged for taking more than they need.
Defensively you resume your stride, with defiant purpose and intention, spurred by a sudden call to action, determined to abandon these negative thoughts and put as much distance between you and them as quickly as you can.
Your eyes fix on the tree line ahead, the hem that holds the sky to the land, seemingly waiting for you on the far side of the lea, where, just there, at the edge, you know you’ll find ancient entrances to the forest beyond.
These many trees, mute witness to our trivial trials and tribulations, their living rooted among their dead, their concealment, their camouflage, their conspiracy, and their shelter, all hidden within a tapestry of greens and browns.
Their shadows and their light, threading, interwoven, their fallen limbs and branches, and their long-ago leaves, shed among the moss, fern and underbrush.
Underfoot the ground begins to change, no longer the soft topsoil of fallow fields, open pasture and arable land, instead a hardening uneven terrain, with gnarled roots exposed and others hidden, stretching beneath a soft millennial mulch made from countless generations, each adding a layer with the passing of the season, shedding their summer foliage among the decay of their many fallen.
Sun dappled, shady shafts of broken light fragment between the interlocking fingers of the branches reaching overhead. Needles of daylight, breaking through this arboreal chapel, with its high vaulted ceiling, the light peppering your face as you raise your eyes to meet the confetti that now stains your skin with the golden-blue-green of this cathedral’s glass.
Branches creak. Tiny feet, fur and feathers, shuffling through the detritus, rooting in the underbrush, squirrels chattering, leaves rustling, a light wind whistling around the heavier trunks, giving sway to a mournful groan, like a ship’s bough on the open sea, rolling, listing, while a chorus-line of songbirds’ chatter, singing for their supper.
A wren is watching. Eyeing you breathe as quietly as you can, standing stock still, feeling clumsy and heavy footed, your heart aching with wanting the forest to continue despite your interruption and intrusion. The wren’s tiny eyes are on you, brilliant, liquid ink, they blink black and as wet as Welsh slate.
He is the smallest bird you could hope to see in these woods, but his song is the loudest. He speaks to you with his melody and his ballad. Subconsciously you hear his courage, he’s determined, cocky and proud, brave and beautiful.
You find acceptance within his song, you feel his love take root inside you, and you feel the freedom held within his little wings, and in this moment, with him so close, you can be you, vulnerable and safe.