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The Parable of the Sacred Grove



A solitary man journeyed about the world. When he met others on the road, he looked down, grunted a passing greeting, hunched his shoulders, and continued on his way. In each village he passed, he saw the people gathering beneath the trees, the Sacred Groves they called them. They entered the wood in groups, by twos, threes, sometimes alone. They danced, sang, laughed, ate, and watched the cycles of the moon together.  


The man wondered what it would be like to walk beneath those trees. Each time he passed their wood, he wondered if the people would welcome him or turn him away. He wondered why they met in their Groves, beneath the trees, instead of the village square. He wondered what drew them to those places.


But the man never went into the woods. He decided long ago that he needed no one.  He walked alone. It was better that way. Still, he wondered.   


Life continued on for the solitary man. The days unfolded one into another and still he walked alone.


Then one day, as the sun lowered in the sky, the man passed one of the Groves and heard a sound. “Come,” a voice seemed to whisper. He looked around but saw no one.  “Come.” Nervously, he shuffled to the edge of the wood listening. A cooling breeze brushed over him. The leaves rustled. “Come.”

Since no villagers were around, he thought it would do no harm for him to rest a moment beneath the big oak in the center. So the weary traveler sat cradled in the trunk of the old oak. So tired and lulled by the soft sounds of leaves rustling, the man closed his eyes still wondering why the people met here and why they called the woods their Sacred Groves. As he sat poised in the place between sleep and awake, the rustle of the leaves whispered to the man, “Come. Come. They Come. They come together. The Grove is Sacred because they come together–it is what makes them more, makes them community.”


A long, deep, contented sigh came from the old oak. “They see themselves in us and honor us by coming. Like them, we stand in groups of twos, threes, or more. Some of us are intertwined. Some grow leaning on another for support. Sometimes we stand alone. Yet we are all one as our roots are woven together in the same life soil.” The words the old oak whispered to the solitary traveler awakened something in his heart. “Yes, they come and remember that they are not alone–they have each other. The Grove is Sacred because it reminds them they are a community.”


The weary traveler understood the gift the old oak had offered him and somehow felt different. In what way, he was not sure. Then the sound of laughing, squealing children pulled the man from his rest and he saw the villagers coming in groups of twos, threes, and some alone. They carried baskets for feasting and the man became afraid. Would they be angry that he rested in their Grove? He rose and brushed himself off, prepared to run away when one of the smiling women said, “Come, celebrate the fullness of the moon with us this evening. Share our bread and find comfort in our company.”


The man, used to no company but his own, hesitated and then remembered the happiness he felt pouring into him from the old oak and said, “Thank you. I’d like that.”

Copyright © 2005, Xia


Our wish, at Temple of the Goddess, is that each person finds a Sacred Grove, a community to celebrate the turnings of the Wheel of Life. If you find an event in these pages that calls to you, we hope you will join us.