This morning, having gone to bed earlier than usual last evening, I was awake early. And, having done all that was necessary – ablutions-wise, it was still only 7am! At times when I can’t sleep, or awake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep (something which rarely happens, but I always feel is significant), or wake up (too) early, I always head for Culpepper’s Wood, when in north Wales.
‘The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’ John Muir
So, at about 6.20am this morning, with a couple of layers of external clothing on, and donning my faithful woolly hat, I ventured out for the short walk, only to be met by an oh-so-cold blast of air as I opened the kitchen door to leave the cottage. My…it was cold (and that was a British understatement). It was a good-to-be-alive, but please, ‘no colder’, sort of air-embrace. If I wasn’t awake before, I was wide awake then, and more so, as I ‘battled’ through the morning, freezing fog so common in these parts.
I slowly made my way to Culpepper’s Wood.
I’ve mentioned before, how as a child, my friends would avoid the area in the middle of Culpepper’s Wood which contained Y goeden mellt, the Lightning Tree (see here). We would all avoid it, except for me. I loved the power and mystery that both seemed to repel and invite, in equal measure, even as a child. And more recently, I wrote of a mysterious and meaningful ‘encounter’ there (see here).
Today, I passed Y goeden mellt, the Lightning Tree, having paused in its presence just long enough to be respectful, and walked further into the forest for another few minutes. Beyond the Lightning Tree is another area that all my childhood friends liked, and felt safe, and played in, as did I.
‘I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives…
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.’ Wendell Berry
It’s interesting how recollections as an adult of childhood occurrences can change over time. I was looking for two, very tall, thick silver birch trees. As a child, these were two huge trees, exactly 153 steps beyond the Lightning Tree (and I did measure the steps, then, but none of my friends at that time, would – they really didn’t like the Lightning Tree at all). Slightly fewer steps now, as an adult. And, there they were – looking a little thicker, older, weathered, both bowed a bit more that I can remember, and not-so-tall. Probably about fifteen feet in height, and still arched like an ancient door.
Ah, the door! As children, and our child-imaginations ran rife at the time, we called these two trees Drws i fyd arall [pronounced ‘droo zi fid arrah’].
‘We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.’ Walt Disney
I’m not sure, as children whether some or all of us had access to some unknown source of esoteric wisdom (or maybe that’s inbuilt in children, and there’s a thought?), or whether we had all watched too many sci-fi programs on tv.
This was well before the days of Star Wars or StarGate (and the myriad of off-shoots), but comfortably placed in an era when ‘Lost In Space’ was first aired on tv.
Oh, how we all related to our-same-aged Will; and emulated the robot when it bellowed out, ‘Danger, Will Robinson’, as it seemed to do far too often; and how we hissed when Zachary Smith got up to no good. Indeed, it was probably one or more episodes in particular that might have been behind us calling these two trees, Drws i fyd arall. Zachary Smith was usually the one to find some alien artefact, conceal it from the rest of the team, try to use it for his own ends and end up with problems…only for others to resolve the problem at some cost.
There were several ‘Lost In Space’ programs where Zachary Smith had come across a alien’s ‘standing mirror’, which he thought was just a mirror, but unknown to him (initially), it was some kind of alien transport system – yes, stepping through the mirror would take you to an alien world that was totally different, and so you would know things have changed, or it would allow access to a parallel universe where only subtle changes might occur (and so you might now know that you’ve been transported, initially). It was cross between StarGate and Sliders, but many years before both – what a brilliant idea.
And so, early this morning, having walked on further than the Lightning Tree, there were the bowed, arched, silver birch trees: Drws i fyd arall.
It was like a home-coming. There they were. Drws i fyd arall as we called them, or in English, ‘the door to another world’ was right in front of me.
As children we had endless fun passing through these arched trees, that door to another place. Our imaginations ran riot. Today, I stopped to look, sat down, and dwelt on those old memories.
Each one of us has our own Drws i fyd arall, our door to another world. We might not want to imagine stepping through that portal to another level of existence (though you might find it fun and/or beneficial to try), but we might, as adults, distance ourselves from that, and call it potential or opportunity, or choice. That’s the grown-up thing to say. We might call it prayer or meditation. How we use it is important. Take prayer or meditation, for instance. One can dip ones toe into the water, have a shopping list of prayers, or meditate ‘lightly’ and reap some benefits; or one can dive deep and deeper still, and go beyond to be alone with the Alone. One is ‘distancing’ and partial, the other is all-embracing, powerful and culminates in an encounter.
I sat down, and stayed looking at Drws i fyd arall for about ninety minutes, until the sun came up at 8.05am. I was in no rush. And then stood, to head back to the cottage. Walking just a few yards, with so many wonderful thoughts in my head of childhood memories of what Drws i fyd arall meant as a child, and now as an adult, I looked back. It seemed to call.
As children, we would have no hesitation running through the two arched trees and pretending we had entered a door and everything was different, as though we were in a strange place – and after Brexit and events of the last few weeks, it seems as though we might have been transported to an alien world, in fact!
‘I have a thing for doors. I always think of them as a threshold to something new.’ Jada Pinkett Smith
But, it seemed to call. Turning and getting closer, there was part of me that wanted to walk through Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world, and part of me that thought that to do so was ‘as silly as a box of frogs’. For some minutes, a mind-battle raged. Ofcourse, I knew that I wouldn’t literally be transported to an alien world if I walked through these two trees, and I knew the outcome (of passing through them or not) would be the same. Or, would it? And so, I tarried for a few minutes, before trekking back to the cottage.
Ah, now you want to know if I once again walked through Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world?
Well, I did! And it was fun! Frivolous! It brought back some great memories! And confirmed one thing: I may not have been transported to an alien planet, but by succumbing to Drws i fyd arall I chose to allow the ‘magic’ of the place to win the day and enter, for imagination to gain the upper hand on this occasion, to embrace the unknown, and go forward positively with a smile on my face. For many people in these tough and strange times that might be such a change in outlook that it would be like them entering a different dimension. But, maybe that’s what Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world’, is all about. A metaphorical-yet-real change of perspective that alters everything. A portal to another place (of attitude, rather than location)?
So, have you found your Drws i fyd arall or ‘the door to another world’?