My sacred ground is a little clearing in the bottomland along a creek with no name. I come here almost every day. Sometimes I linger a bit. Others I simply turn back toward a home on the hill.
The tree I call “Psalms.” A water oak that has clung to the bank of No-Name for at least a hundred years. Just a sapling when this bottomland was all corn. Feed for the horses and mules. A few barrels of meal and some roasting ears. Maybe some traded to a family of famous bootleggers who still live over the ridge, the last now too old to do anything but piddle around the yard, tending fruit trees and flower beds.
Psalms will lose the battle with gravity one day when a hundred-year flood undercuts the bank. I hope that I am not alive to see it.
Because this is sacred ground.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
Two graves here, each covered with field stone. One for a companion, a dog that I loved more than most people. The second a sweet little lady who never was anything but. I had her put down sixth-months ago, before the suffering of ruined hips became more than she or I could bear.
I have cried four times that I can recall in the last 40 years. The first when I lost my dad. The second when I found that some certainties are not. The third and fourth over these two small graves. Biblical crying. Great sobs and blubbering. Sorrowful moans worthy of sackcloth and ashes.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
He brought her here six years ago, because he is like me and this spot is sacred to him too. Got down on a knee and asked her to be his wife. A happy day, the kind that sticks with you forever. Love that clings tenaciously to the bank of the river of your heart.
I came here today, as I am accustomed to do on a Sunday afternoon. Two little ones riding along behind me in a pull-cart. They look at trees and butterflies. Ask a lot of questions. Throw rocks and sticks into the creek. My stony heart smiles.
It is written that an ancient Hebrew put up a stone on his sacred ground, a place where he met with God.
I have no stone, but I have Psalms.