{Sanctuary is a place in Snow White and the Huntsman where the fairies live. The dwarfs take Snow White here and they spend the night in a stone circle sleeping on fawn firs and marveling at mossy creatures and fairy song. It is where Snow White receives a blessing. Afterwards Lucy and I said, “They could have filmed that in the northwest!” The following is an adventure the boys and I had that brought us there…}

On Thursday I woke up and knew what I needed to do. I had to take the boys to the heart leaves. I had to take them to the river. I had to grow in them what had grown in me.

I rebelled against this calling until the afternoon.

It would not be easy. Three boys down a very steep, treacherous slope. An impish five year old, a mischievous toddler, and a crying babe. I began laughing about it before we even got out of the car. But the spirit of adventure is faithful. I took the first step and my enthusiasm took hold.

Sometimes I just have to take a desire by the corner of its sleeve and it whisks me away into the cosmos. But I have to take that corner. Somehow that’s always the hardest part.

On our way down I suffered, blushingly, the looks and inquiries of many questioning hikers. “Do you need help?” was the main question. I would smile and huff and puff and say “no thank you. I’m okay.” When really I was ready for my stroller without a hand break to suddenly lurch forward and drag me with it down into the sticker bush and nettle abyss. I could picture Harry’s car seat flying, tumbling through the air and smashing against a tree.

When we finally reached the bottom of the ravine and more steady ground I couldn’t tell if I was shaking from the descent or from terror. But it was over, and my plan to keep walking all the way to my parents house on the other side and let Beau pick up the car at the top made me feel like the smartest girl in the whole world.

I relaxed and looked around at the splendor around us. Finn found a nut brown chipmunk with black stripes. He followed it into the thicket and came back out with a huge grin on his face. My heart started beating faster and my pace quickened. We were entering Sanctuary. Together.

We came out of the shadow of the gulch and light started to glitter through the green. Just then a woman came up from behind and put her hand on the stroller. She was walking with us. I fought back the urge to be repellant. My mind (or the Spirit?) very clearly said,

You never know when a stranger may be an angel.

The woman said, “Oh! God Bless you. God bless you!”

I smiled and said, “Thank you!”

“They are a gift from the Lord. They are blessings. How old?”

“He’s 5 months. He is two. And he is five.”

“Oh! God Bless you. God bless you! They will grow up and they will get married. And they will leave you. And you won’t see them anymore. You cherish them. Cherish them now. They are God’s blessings.”

I was a little bit taken aback. These kind of statements can sometimes be frustrating. Like…duh…of course I cherish them. Thanks for reminding me to love my own kids…blah. But I hushed my thoughts and chose to be kind.

“How many children do you have?” I asked cheerfully.

“I have two. But they are grown. They are gone.”

“Do you have any grandchildren?” I asked.

The woman paused. She took a halted breath and looked down. “I had two. But one died in the spring. He had cancer. He was one.”

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.

I was so glad I hadn’t been rude. I kept my heart open and chose to be inviting. And now when I wanted to keep her and shelter her she flitted away like a little bird.
I called after her.

“God bless YOU!”

All was still. My thoughts zeroed in on pain mixed with the beauty around me. The dust motes floating upward in the golden light made me feel as though I was walking in slow motion.

An angel told me to cherish my children. A woman who has suffered much chose to bless me.

We reached the heart leaves and walked through them down onto the rocky bank. Moss covered every available surface. Light shimmered and danced on the water. It is my favorite part of the river. Finn waded out and threw huge rocks into it. Oliver found a muddy little pool and stuck his hands into it. Harry woke up and, laying serenely in his seat, cood up at the birds in the branches. An entire forest mobile to delight him.

I sat on a log and breathed in all of the splendor around me. I am blessed. I had lost before. How easily I had forgotten to remember. And to be thankful. My children are gifts. I cherished them in a way I hadn’t ever before. There was a jumbled rhythm to our song, but the music was enchanting.

We had entered a world where magic was tangible. When we left we carried a piece of it back with us. More notes in our song. It sang bright and clear into the forest as we walked along.

Or maybe that was Finn humming. It sounded like fairy music to me.


2 thoughts on “Sanctuary

  1. What a moving moment to be a part of! Yes, yes . . . we never know what lies beneath. I try and remember that when I bump into someone who is acting “off” (and have to fight off the lurking idea that it must have been something I did). We never know, we just never know. Kindness goes so far, doesn’t it??

    Also, my heart gets a little achey seeing the beautiful forests/gulleys of Western WA. That is exactly what I grew up with . . . exploring, eating huckleberries, smelling the skunk cabbage. I miss that landscape (though I do get to visit it every year :).

    I am so fond of you, Bridget. Thanks for sharing your inner workings with us, the internets. I always feel a little lighter after visiting your blog, with a little smile curving at the corner of my mouth. Inspired.

  2. Simply magical! Your boys will never forget these times of wonder and ahh! You are an amazing mother Bridgett!

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