Carol, Oscar, Gracie, and I live on 17 1/2 acres. Middle of nowhere. 7 acres of nowhere is a flattened lava field that contains mostly nothing. When we walk through a small corridor formed by the intersection of two lava rock berms, the landscape reveals herself. Looking to our left, we see a trail of felled trees, dead and bleached, dumped there by previous stewards. It winds like a snaking river. It’s a beautiful symbol of death, with its promises of renewal sprouting here and there. Looking to the right, in the distance, we see black space unfurling underfoot like the bridal gown of a princess, leading to the conjugal vision of wide open sky kissing vast, engulfing ocean, in their impossible blue union. However, before us, looking right, we see a wood chip path guided by blue lava stone, which leads to the gazebo we recently had built from a hobbit-like design, so that it would blend in with the scenery. It has benches but no walls and is held in place by posts of the ohia tree—the first flora to grow naturally and mysteriously in new lava fields. This gazebo is our sole contribution to the ready-to-build flattened 7 acres.
When visitors come they are taken aback by this open space. They feel the power of the place. It does have an energy to it, whether from the striking visual or something else. Quickly, the spiritual punch and the wow factor give over to imagination, which runs wild with visions of what to make here. You could build houses, they say, or a landing pad for aliens! Standing in a living portrait of drastic beauty stokes the fires of possibility in them and they want to make something to fill up the space. If they lived here, something from them would spill out of the mind’s eye and they’d build it to occupy the openness.
When Carol and I walk onto the lava field, we both realize in an unspoken way that the joy of the place comes from the openness. It is as if a sacred moment reveals when one walks through the black rock corridor into this moonscape oasis. We never take it to the next step our friends often do of asking what we should do with it. It is doing. We are here to protect and preserve for as long as that’s necessary. We would not have built the gazebo if it didn’t feel like the right structure, and the right amount of structure, in the right place. We listen to the land and the land tells us what thoughts to actualize from the exploding molten core of human ideas.
We are not the gods of doing here. We are tools of doing for the needs of the land and our needs within the land’s framework. We don’t clutter the landscape through the blinding excitement of self expression or a desire to make money. When the mind is uncluttered, one’s action is choiceless action because one understands the joy that is coming from the land is coming from the land, not from what one will do next.
We are the ones ready to be built by the land.