Chapter 3 Excerpt — From Harry Pond Looks Homeward: The Spiritual Adventures of an Ohio Farm Boy

No one can know but you, and you can know all if you want

The next afternoon Becky and I took a long walk in the forest that bordered our farm on the northern and partially eastern sides of the property. The scent of evergreen fronds greeted us as we walked along the central forest path. Everywhere, tightly grouped stands of hemlocks, Austrian and Canadian pines, some standing a tall as seventy-feet high and forty-feet wide, filled the forest, creating a Christmas-like feeling no matter the time of year.

Massive old growth American Sycamores with their spotted gray-white bark, and equally large Cottonwoods spread across the forest floor. They rose above the evergreens to create a green- and golden-leaf umbrella across the rooftop of the forest, providing much needed relief from the often brutal heat of the Ohio summer. As children, Becky and I had marveled at these giants some with canopies sixty-feet across at their widest point. On hot summer days like this one, we would often come into the forest to escape the blistering heat of the day. We never tired of our visits, for they always brought with them gifts of adventure, watching tadpoles grow into crocking frogs, picking wildflowers for mom’s dinner vase, or eating our fill of the berries abounding everywhere.

In autumn, old growth stands of White Oak and White Ash bordering the forest along its edge treated us to fireworks displays of changing leave colors of yellow, orange and reddish-purple showing the dance of fall turning towards winter. The Sycamore’s bark turned pure white, signaling a time when the freezing cold kept us from visiting this magical place of childhood mirth and fancy.

Walking lightly on the carpet of moss resulting from the giant shade trees, speckles of sunlight filtered through the forest’s ceiling, sprinkling our faces and the path on which we walked with rays of golden light. We knew this path well. Growing up, it had been our pathway to adventure, our playground. Both of our memories were rich with days spent here roaming by the summer streams, together or with friends, seeding our days with bullfrogs, flowers, purple-berried hands, insects, and any other object that caught our fancy.

But today we simply walked in this place and Becky spoke, “Last night we spoke about voices that came to you. It’s been happening to me, too. I don’t know, what they say is okay, but it makes me feel that I’m somehow going crazy. What do you think? Have you found out anymore about them since the first time they came to you?”

“No, I haven’t, except one thing I know is to trust them — as strange as it sounds. Like right now, I hear a voice that wants us both to know that the voices we hear are like guardian angels that have come to help. They think that that’s the best way we’ll understand all this. I feel a little scared, myself, but they tell me that the truth is that both you and I’ve asked them to come, and that they’re here to help us awaken to what they call our ‘true-nature.’

“You know,” I continued, “Somehow, for me, I know it’s true. Ever since I got hurt and had all that time to be with my thoughts in the hospital bed in Saigon, I’ve been thinking more and more about who I am, and about what life is all about. I mean, if these voices are real, then where do they come from and what do we really know about the nature of life, anyway, and really about the nature of our own selves? “Something inside me thirsts to know the answers to these questions,” I continued, “and I can’t think of anything more important to do with my life than to find them out.”

At this point, I stopped speaking, for I could see that, big sister or no, Becky felt stretched beyond her normal composed self by all this talk of voices and the “nature of things.” She needed a comforting hand. I gently put my arm around her shoulder and we walked in silence for a while. As we went on, I thought of all the other times I’d spent in this forest.

With a little more than five-hundred acre of land, it had been part of a much larger forest from which our farm, and the four other surrounding farms, had been cutout in the early part of the century. Now, these five farms held the forest in joint ownership.

We walked on, and as we did I began to hum a tune that came into my head. Then words came, and as if in a dream, I chanted them out loud:

On the path as I walk
Lightly footed, lightly footed
On the path as I walk
I deliver my song
To the spirits of the forest
who are here as our friends
To the spirits of the forest
I’ve come to give my song
Like a lovers embrace
We’re all one in the Light
Like a lovers embrace

We are one says my song
Never fear, says the forest
For the days are drawing near
Never fear says the forest
That our voices come so clear
Soon you’ll see the blue light
of the Angels

Soon they will sing
in realms long forgotten
Soon they will dance in the
places of yore.

Becky looked at me in surprise, and in that moment I felt just as surprised as she, for surely I had never heard this chant before this day.

“Where did you learn that song?” she said.

“I don’t know,” I said, “it just came.” She looked at me strangely. I felt startled myself, but said, as if singing such a song were second nature to me, “Perhaps those who’ve been speaking to us want us know something new about the forest … something we don’t already know.”

Becky looked scared. I could see that in this moment, this whole thing went way beyond anything she could accept. I guessed it felt okay for her to hear voices in her own head, and even hear that I had been “receiving” the same, but now, with this chant, I could tell that it all seemed too much for her.

I said, “I know this is difficult to believe, but the feeling I keep coming up with about these voices, and I sort of said it last night, is that somehow these are angels speaking to us.” Perhaps if we asked them who they are they’ll tell us?”

Though shaken, Becky stood tall and said, “Okay, all right, go ahead and ask.” So I did. I asked the voice within my mind, “Are you an angel, or what?” As we walked alongside each other, I waited to hear something back, but nothing came. Becky just stared straight ahead; her eyes had a funny look as if she were in deep thought. As for me, I tried to relax and see what I could find out. We soon came to a place along the trail were an old fallen Oak log rested across a narrow, almost dry creek-bed that ran alongside the main forest path. As if choreographed, Becky and I moved in unison toward it, both sitting down at the same time.

Becky spoke. “I know you’ve been trying to get answers for us …