We had been hiking all day without much of a break, making our way to a place where we were going to camp, atop a small hill that I now call Prophecy Hill. It was a typical midsummer hike: hot, humid and dusty, with no water available along our entire travel route. As usual, we still took time to stop frequently or take side trips to explore various areas along our route. The adventure and exploration kept us fresh and eager, making the fatigue, heat and thirst hardly factors.
Many times along the way, Grandfather would stop and teach us-not physical lessons of survival, tracking or awareness, but lessons dealing with the awareness of Spirit. Very often he would discuss the future and, almost as frequently, the past - the distant past.
At one point we stopped along the deer trail we were travelling and followed Grandfather through some heavy brush. The trees and shrubs were far different than those throughout the rest of the Pine Barrens, and I immediately knew this place as an old homestead or town of some sort. Even though the buildings had long since rotted away, the plants and trees still marked the spot where civilisation had once stood. Passing through several very thick areas, we finally entered a grove of very tall, old sycamore trees. From their branches and up their trunks ran huge vines, the kind one might imagine finding in a jungle. In fact, the whole place looked like a jungle-so out of place from the pine, oak and blueberry that is typical in the Pine Barrens. As we sat down, a deeper spiritual sense of awareness came over me, and it was then that I noticed the gravestones.
This was the place of a very old and probably long-forgotten cemetery, possibly belonging to the town that had once been here. The stones were old; some lay flat on the ground and others stood upright, though none was straight. Plants and bushes had overrun many of the stones, and I could barely make out the markings on the stones. The weathering process had worn away many of the names and dates, making them barely readable.
At once we were in awe, humbled and reverent in this place of death; at the same time, we were amazed that Grandfather had found it so easily. To my knowledge, none of us had been there before, nor had Grandfather ever spoken of this graveyard. Yet for some reason he seemed to be drawn to it, knowing that it was there on some unseen spiritual level, at least unseen to us. I suspect now, as I look back, that he knew that it would become a teaching lesson for us.
He walked over to a gravestone that was partially hidden by foxgrape vines and gently pulled them away. After a long moment, he motioned us to come over. We could barely make out the name on the grave or the dates, but at the bottom was carved clearly: "12 years old".
Grandfather then spoke. "Who are these people; who is this boy? What did they work for and what were their hopes, dreams and visions? Did they just work physically or did they work for the things beyond the flesh, for a grander purpose? Certainly they affected the Spirit-that-moves-in-all-things, but did they really work to the best of their ability to make things better for the future of their grandchildren, or did they do nothing other than to perpetuate the myth of society? Were they happy, joyous and filled with spiritual rapture, or did they just lead lives of labour and mediocrity? And did this boy live close to the Earth and the Creator, or did he just give up his youth, his sense of adventure, to toil, as did his parents and their parents before them? This boy was exactly your age, and I suspect he had hopes and dreams much like yours. But this is his legacy, lying in a forgotten grave."
"But, Grandfather," I said, "isn't it enough just to be happy and live your life fully?"
After a long moment of silence, Grandfather answered. "It is not enough that man be just happy in the flesh, but he must also be happy and joyous in spirit. For without spiritual happiness and rapture, life is shallow. Without seeking the things of the Spirit, life is half lived and empty. And by spiritual life I do not mean just setting aside one hour of one day of one week for worship, but to seek the things of the spirit every moment of every day. I ask you, then: What did these people do to seek spiritual enlightenment and rapture? Did they just give in to a life that was little more than work? They were given a choice every day of their lives-as you will be given a choice to seek the rapture of the Spirit or to resign yourselves to a life of meaningless work. The end result is always the same: forgotten graves and forgotten dreams of forgotten people. It is not important that anyone notice or remember, but that you work to touch God and affect in a positive way the consciousness of the Spirit-that-moves-in-all-things, thus bringing the consciousness of man closer to the Creator."