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don Miguel Ruiz



Musings of an Awakening Spirit

Stories, poetry & general musings of Rebecca Haywood, a modern-day Shaman with a penchant for bringing the divine into the human experience.

My Secret Church

In light of Notre Dame, I thought I would share this piece I wrote a while back about my “secret church” and its ‘demise’. Perhaps it will offer some comfort to those feeling the loss of their sacred site. Perhaps they will feel the loss, like I did, as an expansion and return to the essence from which it came... and to which called us there in the first place. All things fade but all that changes is the form. The love, the devotion, and the faith remain always and in all ways. Let not the form, or the loss of it, distract or abandon you from this faith. RIP Notre Dame. May we rise in your ashes.

My secret church. No walls, no roof, no rules. It sits quietly hidden in the woods near my family cabin in Maine. It belonged to a now defunct summer camp which I attended as a little girl, though I have continued to attend their church ever since— solo and with no congregation but the forest.

I would sneak in through a moss covered trail from my cabin which meandered around huge granite boulders, colored green with life. I would playfully envision the Giants that placed them there. Then, passing the softened skeleton of a long-abandoned house, my step would quicken with thoughts of ghosts.

The forest always comforted me though. There was too much life to feel outnumbered by whatever resided in its shadows. And decay beautifully displayed its worth— fallen Kings of trees no less majestic in their velvet moss and feathers of ferns.

And now this church is joining their ranks, fading into green. The log pews hewn of their regal brothers have surrendered to the gravity of time and now patiently feed the excited saplings that crowd their court. The stone pulpit has been robbed of its height and the cross, hollowed with rot, lilts into the ferny guardian stone behind it (must be why the Giants put it there).

But I love this rotting church more than ever. It seems fitting that all the symbols of religion are now grown wild with life. With no place for a preacher and no clear path marking its territory, it is what I always sought there— a direct relationship with God, quietly and secretly as some sacred things should be.

Amongst the decay, I can smell the sweetness of God in its entirety— the perfect exchange of death giving over and life carrying it forward. And I am reflected in its perfection. All my parts and pieces—scarred by history and glorified in memory—fade to green. I surrender to my own decay and become life-giving sustenance. I am wild again.

This is my true religion. It sits upon no altar nor preacher’s tongue. It is everywhere. The giants of my imagination guide me here and the shadowy ghosts cannot follow, save to dance in the green light of the whispering trees.

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