Orchard's Welcome: Returning to the Dream

Dreams are the stuff of children, you say? Good thing it’s the childlike who get the kingdom. I forgot how much dreaming wakes the heart to life. I’m picking up an old dream of mine, along with some lofty writing goals this summer. But how do you pick up the dreams and stories of seasons past - when seasons have come and passed and changed? I stumbled on this old entry that just begins to capture it. Hope it stirs you to dream again, and it’ll give ya a little window into my summer project!

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I went back last weekend; to that secret place I’d discovered a few years back. It’s not really a secret, but that place knows most all of mine. Never have I entered that lovely spot with another; no, that would be betrayal of an ugly sort. Were someone to join me, I’d feel as though I’d betrayed the orchard itself. For never has it shared my secrets, and it has always kept me safely hidden. Yet still, were someone to join me, it’d hurt me most, for truly this secret place is counted among my greatest gifts. As I began to make my way back to my sweet escape, I feared it would be different. I know I am. I hadn’t returned since the fall because it’d been a long, hard winter.

I take the first step. I turn to miss the branch that hangs down low enough to graze my head. Still, a small branch almost runs its limb through my hair. The leaves crack, as a familiar hope fights for my full attention. It’s almost whimsical. Yet I can’t deny the creeping fear that things will be different. Different I feared, and winter was to blame; it endured far too long this year. I wonder, “Could the orchard still be the same one I wrote of in my allegorical fairy tale last year? Rather, can it still be the same place for me after my harsh winter? Will it find me changed? Acceptable even?”

Ever part, all of me, hopes to be pulled right back into that fairy tale-like peace I once knew. So I step in deeper, beneath the second two filberts’ covering. I remember portions I penned of my youthful reflection from the year before . . .

“She likes to run away, even if it’s just for a few short moments. The wind blows. The leaves respond - stirring, trembling, almost singing. They create a merry melody, a sweet serenade as they twirl and dance to the unseen current. Hidden under their branches, she’s found her secret refuge. Upon her every return, she finds herself covered and concealed. In their outstretched arms, her heart is lifted up high, higher than the world she'd been most familiar, that which she'd run from just moments before.

Though some might call her an almost-grown, beautiful young woman, she still thinks of herself as a little girl. Probably because she feels so small. When she rests against the oak’s strong and sturdy trunk, the weary world’s troubles seem to lose their weight. She spreads her worn blanket over the crinkly leaves that layer the rich soil. Faded flowers and outdated beauty line its worn edges, like her bright-eyed naivety worn down by the real state of her world.

She sits. She soaks in the peace. It's not long before the gentle trees lend their mighty strength to relieve her sore, weighed-down shoulders. They're gentle, though mighty. The trees that stand enclosing the little girl hold an enormity of sure infinite strength in their steadfast branches. They’ll gladly carry all that makes her shoulders slouch; that which makes her dance a mere shuffle in the dust. Even in her most far-fetched daydream, she’d never possess the strength they hold effortlessly.

She knows she’s entered into the very heart of the orchard when she feels released to be wholly, freely, and simply herself. There's no need to hide here. Here, she cannot hide, she's entirely known. One simple little girl enclosed within a shelter of every shade of green, consumed by the breath of the wind swirling about her petite figure, and struck by the awe of the beauty of this place. When she looks up, a hope stirs. Hope, foreign in the world she's known most all of her days.

Peering through the safe covering of leaves above, she ponders the blue canvas and the airy white clouds moving swiftly just overhead. They move at great pace, more quickly than she’d noticed in ordinary moments and ordinary places. It’s almost magical. Hope mounts, just as a smile surfaces; at that moment, she knows. She knows there’s more: more than she can see; more than what she's heard; beyond what she could hope.” I was that little girl.

Passing tree after tree, I forge on right into the heart of the orchard, but I certainly don’t feel like that little girl anymore. Then something catches my eye. Curiosity and a hint of childlike wonder draw me deeper than I’d ventured before. Standing still, I peer to take in this sight. In the center of the orchard, three very large filbert trees lay like fallen branches on the ground. Almost entirely uprooted, their thick, intertwined roots lay exposed. They had never seen the light of day, until winter’s big snow storm blew through town. Wind and heavy snow must have shoved them over like school yard bullies. The snow and ice had come and gone. Now only the formerly strong and mighty trees rest sideways upon dry soil. I conclude that winter took its toll on the orchard, as it took its toll on me: seemingly sturdy things had fallen all around.

I take a second glance. In a moment I realize, there is nothing sad about this sight. I toss my old blanket on the orchard’s bed, slip out of my shoes, and take a step. I step onto the tree trunk raised two feet above the ground it paralleled. My feet are cushioned by the soft, green moss. I know I won’t fall. I balance one foot after the other. I look at the ground below. Squirrels jump from limb to limb around me, and the birds sing a melody I’ve never heard before. It’s delightful. The structure these fallen trees have created is a fortress any child could spend hours devising an imaginary world around.

Before I know it, I can’t remember the day that I fled from or the tomorrow that lay ahead. I can’t remember my winter, though it shaped me, as it had the orchard. This moment is more real than any fairy tale. It’s just me in my orchard, though we had both endured a cold, long and harsh few months. It was just me and the orchard . . . and the One who finds me there. The steadfast strength, peace and kindness of the orchard had endured through the winter. I sit against a slanted tree trunk, in perfect peace. But I can’t close my eyes. The sight that surrounds me is too lovely. I’ve found home once again.

In shifting seasons, I’m certain this faithful spot will never turn me away. In fact, as I began to I write this, I had to go back. I can’t stay away. I’ll never get enough.

Always,

Kaylee

#orchard #secretplace #winter #dream