She nearly slipped on the moss covered cobblestones. How long had it been since someone had used this hatch? And yet the planter near the gate had a tiny plant in it – trimmed, healthy, not unruly and wild as cultivated plants went. This was being tended – but by who? And why wasn’t s/he using the door? Why come all this way to keep this plant in a pot alive? This corner of the farm wasn’t exactly on the way to anything you needed. There weren’t chickens to feed, horses to comb over here. And yet someone had been here, and recently – within the week at least.
Funny how wildflowers never needed attention,but everything else did. Maybe it was time for people to start valuing things as they were and stop messing with nature. Nature knew best how to stay alive.
But now she was in charge of the farm. It washers, to have and to hold from this day forward, until she died. She hoped it was for better, not worse, but you never knew with these arrangements.
The country had offered this unique real estate plan for 30 years or more now and it was working out well. If you promised to improve the property and to never sell it, you could stay there for free. It was a great way to deal with the homeless crisis and abandoned buildings at the same time. Two birds, one stone.
Once a minor government worker had put the pieces together it was so obvious a solution that the bureaucrats almost didn’t act on it. It was so simple that they thought there had to be a hitch. Where was the profit? How could they benefit – in tax revenue, if nothing else? Once it was explained that they no longer had to pay the police to chase off squatters, they started to warm up to the idea. Once it was explained that they also wouldn’t have to spend any money on the homeless, they cottoned to the idea even more. And yet they still were wary – were they simply letting the squatters win? Was this another liberal trick?
There were background checks. There were interviews. There were tests. There were forms – God were there forms! That alone weeded out the illiterate and the impatient. Only those who made the time to wade through all that folderol were up to the task after all.
Plenty of people who won the challenge moved in right away, bringing their whole family with them – aunts, cousins, dogs, the lot. They had learned in the interview process that it would require many hands to make light work of all the farm chores. Others, lacking in blood kin,scouted the neighboring villages – the farm houses often being isolated affairs– and hired the very people who had been ousted as squatters the weeks before in the transition.
Those people knew the patterns of the farms – where the animals huddled in bad weather, where it was dry and where was wet. This knowledge would help speed things along. Plus – they were often grateful to legitimately live where they had spent so much time. To get paid in bed and board at a place you’d stay for free was a real blessing. The farms ended up like a kibbutz – a collective, where no profit was expected and hard work was understood.
But this little doorway – with its rough hewn wood and antique door lock – what was it guarding? And how long since it had been opened? Or had it ever? It was entirely possible that the door had been created just to keep something in forever, or at least as long as it was alive.Otherwise why have a lock? If it was something that needed to be forgotten, it could have been walled up, with no sign to passersby that there was anything of interest beyond.
So she found someone on the farm who could pick locks, and away they went into the hatch, just the two of them, but prepared at least with a pitchfork and a hoe. There was no telling what they would face.
Inside they met a mirror monster, which greeted them with suspicion and curiosity and a bit of entitlement. The two humans felt that this was their home and everyone else needed to leave – in the mirror monster felt the same way. It was only showing them what they showed it. It was nature, at its most basic, and it had stayed alive all this time because most of the people who encountered it were comfortable with the foreign, the alien. They saw it as a friend they didn’t know yet, rather than an enemy to be defeated.The mirror monster lived in this field – had as long as memory and longer. It roamed its land and never strayed.
A century ago or more a landowner had marked off the monster’s land, declared it sacred and special, because he felt whole there. This was his special place to remember who he really was – not scattered and divided, but complete and calm and centered.
If he’d been of the religion bent, he might’ve told the local rabbi or vicar about this place and let them enclose it further, building tall walls and a roof to further mark the space as sacred, as set-aside, but he wasn’t, so he didn’t. He felt it was important to leave this area for anyone who needed it, rather than seal it up only for those of that one faith tradition and only open when they felt like it.
It was his ancestor who watered the plant near the hatch, but she did it secretly. It wouldn’t do to call attention. Her forefather, the one who built the walls but not the door, had been ousted by someone of a different ilk, a darker bent. That person had come to visit but had jealousy in his heart. He saw the flourishing farm and wanted it for his own.
He used the law to his own advantage, not as it was intended.Instead of the law being a shield to protect the innocent, it was used as a sword to cut and divide. Within a few short months the farm changed hands.
When this interloper, this usurper, entered the field, the mirror monster struck with full force, meeting energy with energy as was its nature. Faced with his own ugliness, his own greed, the new owner put up a gate with a lock to ensure he never accidentally walked in there again. If the farm were smaller, he’d have torn down the walls and dug up the field, attempting to eradicate the spirit. Not like that would have done him any good – the force occupied the space, not the land. It was beyond the material, beyond what you could see and touch.
This would have been the case had a shrine been built there too – the place didn’t make you better or worse. It just made you more of what you already were.
These mirror monsters were everywhere, and many’s the temple that had been built over their domain. And many of the sacred sites had good people as well as bad visit. The place could serve as a challenge to the unsettled, the suspicious – where they suddenly had a choice. Continue feeling unsettled, fearful, or start feeling curious and open. They had a choice to stay where they were or become someone else – someone open and hopeful.
But now she thought – what to make of this place? Or did it need anything done to it? Not everything needed to be “developed”. Some things are perfect as they were, unspoiled, naturally alive. There is a wisdom in the unspoiled, the as-is. Where did humans get the idea they were improving land –that their way was better than God’s way?