Today was a magical day for finding hidden treasures.
Every morning for the past year or so it has been my habit upon waking to do my prayers and mediation, then I check Facebook and eMails and then do some yoga. If it’s not too stormy and my hip bursitis is not giving me grief I take about a two to three mile walk past the duck pond where I feed the old goose and the other ducks, and the crows and seagulls if they’re around, whatever bread crumbs we had in the house. The last part of my walk takes me through the graveyard and into the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm. I was feeling a bit nostalgic in the orchard today, as I have spent many cathartic hours there over the past year and a half. And since I may be having less time for that in the next few months, I wasn’t eager for my time to end there today. After walking the trails I sat down under one of the bigger oak trees that stand sentinel in the orchard. I sat for about twenty minutes just counting my blessings and marveling at the changes I’ve seen myself through during this “season of timelessness”. When I rose I looked into the bowl of the tree I had been sitting under, where the branches all meet the trunk, just about eye level. There among the dried leaves and sticks and rotting acorns was some camoflage duck tape and I saw that it was covering a plastic container. My first thought was that I’d discovered someone’s secret drug stash…hmmm, curious.
I poked at the container with a stick.
Here, I had a flash of the state of our sad society incumbent with indoctrinated fears and then laughed at myself for thinking any terrorist would leave a bomb to detonate in an old oak tree in the middle of nowhere and even if it were I was so happy at the day I was having that it didn’t matter to me if it all ended right then. Nothing happened when I poked it. I rolled it over I could see a little writing through the plastic bottom which had no tape. Still, I thought maybe it was someone’s private letter to God or something and it wasn’t any of my business.
I thought about Pandora and her box that contained all the evils in the world. And just what would I be letting into my life by opening it.
I open it and see that it contains a tiny book and something else wrapped in a paper napkin.
The book is decorated with various stamps.
A website address was written on the inside of the container www.letterboxing.org
After I get home and I look up the website a most amazing phenomena unfolds. It is a truly an art form that I was not aware of. According to the website letterboxing began in Dartmoor, England and the practice is over 150 years old. After an article about letterboxing appeared in America individuals began hiding letterboxes on this side of the pond! In fact, there are currently no less than seven in my hometown. The idea is to create a secret logbook and a personal rubber stamp. The book and stamp are stashed in a remote, interesting or beautiful spot and clues are left (for example on the website, which begs the question how the clues were shared before the advent of the internet). The treasure hunters then search out the letterboxes and when they find one they place their own homemade rubber stamp on the next page and date and if they choose they can put the letterbox rubberstamp in their own log book like a record of all the letterboxes found.
I am so amazed that I found this secret treasure quite by accident. Even though it was not a homemade rubber stamp I placed a rubber stamp impression from one that I’d had at home and dated and signed the little book and placed an extra Ziploc around the contents and replaced it back in the tree where it was discovered.
Finding the letterbox today was a affirmation to me that this dark night of the soul during which I have been richly blessed in many hidden ways but struggled in many ways too, that perhaps maybe it is a sign that the hardness of winter is indeed melting into a warm caress of possibility. And I am eager to start the next season of my life and look for ever new treasures in secret places.