I have a favorite place. I should think most people have their own, a spot that resonates within, that calls to them for one reason or another. Iíd like to show you mine, if thatís alright.
Itís here, behind my childhood house. Through my backyard, and behind these bushes, the prickly green and pink bushes. Behind this broken down fence, itís been here forever; and further still behind these branches and ivy and piles of leaves. Hereís the little stream, the three stepping stones placed in the middle. Then through this last ivy archway on the other side, itís not far.
A narrow clearing now, with high and leafy walls. Itís not so big, really, but the trees that stretch to the sky begin to bend in unnaturally as if to provide shelter from the winds and the rains. You can still see a small strip of sky when you look up, and the brilliant blues and lazy oranges of the afternoon blend carelessly into the reds and navies of the sunset to the west. This is my favorite place.
The ground here is blanketed in crisp, golden leaves and a great number of blossoming dandelions. Itís the perfect spot for a buzzing couple, isnít it? They run towards each other and romantically fall into one anotherís arms, just like in the black and white movies weíd watch on TV.
There, on the edges where the flowers meet the trees, there are bursts of blackberry bushes, dotted with their many hues of purple. A few gravestones covered in moss and fancy lettering are there aside the berries, their owners resting in their favorite place, too.
And here, nestled in this snug, sunlit corner, at statue sits. A tribute, a marker of memories and achievements. The statue is of a girl, a fairy, maybe, crouched down and with a single daffodil in her right ear. She carries this pail of flowers in her left hand, and her right is outstretched as if to pick another. The words, ďSacred is the worldĒ are etched on the stone block on which she stands. The phrase seems to echo throughout this place, doesnít it?
Iíve shown only one other person, you know. She was my age when I met her, eleven years old, I think, and she had transferred here from her hometown in Montana with her family; her fatherís job brought him here, to this small coast town with my favorite place hidden somewhere inside. Her name was Katie.
For the next three years, Katie and I were inseparable. We would make weekly trips to the stream so we could skip rocks and search for treasure, weíd build tree-houses and rope swings and weíd pretend we were king and queen of my backyard, our castle at the base of my apple tree.
It was on that fourth year of our friendship before I showed Katie my favorite place. Itís not that I didnít want to share; it was my hideout, my escape when I needed a breath of real, sweet, fresh air, my favorite place. I was fifteen, she was soon turning fourteen, and it was then that her world took on a strange and tragic spin; her younger brother, Cody, never survived his bout with a relentless brain tumor.
Katie had came over on a late Thursday afternoon, after I was home from school, and she quietly knocked on our rickety screen door. She had been absent from school for the week, so I knew something was different, something was off. Walking closer to the open doorway and feeling the warm fall winds blow through the house, I noticed her face. It looked sadly distorted, positioned that way to stop herself from crying, and her cheeks swelled with redness from what must have been fresh tears.
I opened the screen door. As I remember the scene now, it looks rather cinematic with a faint sepia glow casting an eerie beauty over everything. I can recall her telling me about her brother and then, with a surprising suddenness, leaping into my arms and soaking my shirt with her crying. We stood there in the open doorway for what felt like hours, with her gently sobbing while I try to whisper words of encouragement into her mess of hair and tears.
When she stopped the physical flow of tears (I think that she never really did stop crying, but rather hid it quite well for the rest of her years), I had decided then that it was time to show her my favorite place, in hopes that it would be hers, too. Together, we exited the house and I shut the door behind me.
I led her through the trail in the backyard. Past the prickly bushes, over the broken-down fence, and further still behind the branches and ivy and leaves. We came to the stream and crossed it, her hand in mine as I led her forward through the ivy archway. Suddenly, when the thick of the trees looked much too thick to continue, the green thinned into openness, into my special place.
I watched her face as we entered and I saw her gasp. One hand covered her mouth and the other pointed out at the field. I smiled, I loved this girl. She could see the same magic I could. I stopped, though, for she had seen something else, too.
There, covering the field in a blanket of color, were thousands of butterflies. Softly floating around and waltzing with one another, their wings fluttered to an unknown rhythm. Unknowingly, I had brought my own hands up to cover my mouth, for I had
never known this place to be a haven for butterflies in addition to me.
She turned to look at me, sparkling pools of water beneath her eyes. Instantly, my heart was broken with sorrow and then molded together again with joy. This strange sensation caused my stomach to jump, and I suddenly dashed into the mass of butterflies, my arms extended as if I were going to fly away.
With eyes closed, I stood still in the swirling collection of color. A smile crept along my face and I let the butterflies create a breeze that washed over me. From time to time, one would land on my nose or my cheek, and I could feel itís tiny feet before it leapt off into flight again.
I stood there. For an immeasurable amount of time, I stood there.
When my eyes finally opened again, I was shocked to see that Katie was standing right in front of me, her soft, blue eyes looking into my own. I donít know how long she was standing there, or why, but I felt deep down that I loved her and that she loved me. Reaching out my arms, I hugged her. We connected, embracing as millions upon millions of butterflies danced around us. I felt like I could almost hear their faint music, making itís way through my head and down to my heart, strangely triggering a deep, satisfied laugh.
I let out my laugh, only to be followed by another. I wasnít sure what to call it, the way I felt, it was new to me. Iím not sure what caused it, but something about it felt right and real, so I continued laughing, and soon, Katie joined in too. Quietly at first, she started her tender giggle, and it soon grew into a deep laugh as well. Time was not in effect as we laughed, for we were enjoying our magical surroundings. Maybe thatís the only way to stop time: to feel something so deeply wonderful that the clocks simply canít keep ticking.
Laughing so much that my stomach hurt, I happily collapsed on the ground and stretched out. As my eyes were closed, Katie had laid herself out close to me, and her hand searched the ground until it found mine.
There, together, we had stopped time.
If only for one moment, we stopped the seconds from passing.
And it was there that I thought, ďSacred is the world.Ē