The photo above is one of my favorite shots taken by my wonderful wife, Sam. I feel like it captures the idyllic feelings I get every time I come through the gate at the end of the day. This is the sunset we see just about every day. Now, granted, this picture was taken a few years ago and the view has changed a bit. The very neat and tidy garden patch to the right is now a wild patch full of what we now refer to as “accidental tomatoes”, an assortment of medicinal and culinary herbs and a few “weeds” that we found interesting and decided to leave in place, just to see what they would become. Aside from having two silly little dogs who tend to make a bit of a mess of things, we’ve added a few plants, let a few more “weeds” grow, and don’t do anything special for the grass (we suspect the previous owners may have done some kind of lawn treatment…we are not fans of such things, obviously), so the lawn looks a little less “manicured.”
The water feature on the right is still there and we’ve made additions to it, as well. We’ve added a fairly large concrete Japanese dragon (we call him Tatsuo, for the founder of Isshinryu Karate, which we’ve recently begun learning from our dear friend, Jeff). We’ve also added a whole lot of living things. When we first moved here, there had never been any plants or fish in the water feature. They’d just fill it with water and let it run. We tried following suit, the first year, but the algae got so bad that we ended up having to pump it out and refill it, once, before closing it down that winter. The next year, we added fish and it got really bad…then the pump died… The next year, I was hit with a terrible bout of depression and I did nothing with it. It lay mostly dormant after that for several years. We’d try to get something going, but we’d inevitably end up giving up and letting it go. One year, in a desperate attempt to rekindle my interest in the ponds she knew I loved so much, my amazingly patient Sam spent days cleaning up the whole water feature – even to the point of bailing it out by hand, since we had no working pumps at the time – only to have me soon loose interest again.
This year, though, I had a renewed sense of wonder and fascination with my little ponds. We spent several days cleaning it up, clearing the brush around the edges and then went out, just before our annual “Birthaversary” celebration (Our birthdays book-end our anniversary, so we have an annual three-day celebration), and picked up a bunch of water plants – water lillies, water clover, etc., some fish, a few tadpoles and two snails (two that turned into what appears to be about 200). As Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic Park, “Life…uh…finds a way!” Water doesn’t want to be dead, so algae formed in the empty water. While it still forms in the water with the flora and fauna in it, the flora and fauna control the algae and there’s a balance.
And balance is important. It’s particularly important to us at the Oasis. Yet, I’ve been very out of balance for a long time. One of the many reasons for me starting this project is to find that balance again. I think part of the reason I’ve lost that balance is that I have spent so many years feeling like I was responsible for caring for everyone else around me, while also feeling like I am not important enough to be cared for, myself. I’d tell myself that I shouldn’t worry about my own needs being met, I should just make sure to take care of everyone else’s needs. Once everyone else is taken care of, if there’s time and if there are resources left over, then maybe I can take care of me. Clearly, there is no balance in that line of thinking. So, I’m learning to take care of myself, too; looking for a balance between my love of caring for others and my need to care for myself. It’s a slow process…
So, what is Crossroads Oasis, anyway? I’ve already written a little about the place we call “The Oasis.” It would be simple to say that it’s the quaint old dream house of two slightly eccentric, lovesick dreamers. The big old house located at a semi-busy crossroads in an old colonial town in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Well, maybe not just the house, but the land it sits upon, as well. The whole place is really just fantastic! To borrow from Gordon White, it is our own little slice of Rivendell.
In many magical traditions, a crossroads is a liminal space, literally an interesection between two worlds. It is a magical place where the rules of reality are ever so subtly altered, and with the right knowledge one can use this liminality to commune with the unseen world and tip the balance of probability just enough to bring about favorable changes in one’s reality. It is a space that, although in the world is definitely not of the world. Situated as it is and being occupied by who it is, our Oasis is such a place – in the world, but not of the world. It is a peaceful and healing oasis in the harsh and chaotic dessert of modern society.
On the other hand, it could be said that Crossroads Oasis is, in fact, those two slightly eccentric, lovesick dreamers. Two people, deeply in love with each other and in love with life, who have a dream of helping to re-enchant their little corner of the world.
You could also say that Crossroads Oasis is a state of mind, or a state of being. It is a state where one draws a line in the sand before a world gone completely bonkers and says, “This far and no further!” It is a state characterized by an open mind, an open heart, open arms and, probably most importantly, open eyes.
At the end of the day, Crossroads Oasis is all of these things (you were waiting for “and more”, weren’t you? PSHH…that would just be cliche…). It is the place, the people and the idea all bound together. If we moved house (which we won’t…ever…EVER.), we’d still be Tom and Sam and the idea might live on, but the change in place would definitely change the feel. Although I’m heading up this endeavor and it’s wholly “my baby” at this point, without my Sam, there’d definitely be a lot less wind in my sails (uh…yeah…take that as you will… 😉 ), and the idea would have a lot less meaning. Although I’m primarily engaging in this project for my own sake, I don’t think I’d have gotten this far, this soon, without my Sam (and that’s saying something, since I’m push half a century, here!).
When we began our journey together, we accepted the fact that we each had a lot of healing to do. Each knew the other was damaged. We proceeded with caution and with tenderness for each other. I honestly don’t think either of us knew exactly how extensive the damage was, either for ourselves or for each other. It’s been a long, hard journey toward healing and continues to this day. We’ve healed a lot of things, but just like any repair job, in the process of fixing one thing, you find five more things that need to be repaired…and then, sometimes, in the process of fixing something, you end up breaking something else. Figure out and fix an emotional issue and find a physical ailment that needs attention. Correct the physical ailment and find yet another emotional or psychological issue… So it goes.
In a perfect world, you work hard on your damaged bits and one day – TADA! All fixed! But, as we all know, this world ain’t perfect. It’s not important that we fix everything. What’s important is that we keep working on it all – keep moving forward. So, that’s what I’m doing here. Dredging the depths, dragging up the broken pieces and doing my best to fix them. As I continue to charge forward, I have a lot of interesting plans and ideas for the future, both for me personally and for this website. With no apologies, I will refrain from sharing any of my future plans until I’m fully prepared to execute them. Just know that I’ve worked hard to get to a place where I’m really loving where things are going. I feel like I’ve got a future to believe in. If you read this far, thank you being a part of it.