Chapter OneI finally broke through to a clearing of about twenty acres. I was so relieved to escape the claustrophobic density of the woods that my eyes teared and I flopped down against a stump. After a few minutes my worried mind and eyes cleared to the degree that I could see that I was sitting on the edge of the grandest collection of white pine stumps that I had ever seen. They were simply immense, with several so large that three men with hands joined couldn't have encircled them. I had inadvertently discovered a stump shrine. I counted thirty. The soil must have been perfect for white pine and one could only imagine them rising a couple of hundred feet in toward the sky. My skin tingled though my heart and mind felt sore.
On the far side of the clearing there was a gulley that seemed to lead in a more westerly direction. Scarcely a hundred yards down the slow pitch of the gulley I came upon a stunning surprise. There before me was the largest of all white pine stumps, the great mother of stumps, straddling the gulley like a ten-ton spider supported by roots so massive I couldn't get my arms around them. I scrambled around to the other side and there was an opening large enough to crawl in. It was sufficiently high enough for me to sit up straight and there was light enough to see the ground, which was a mixture of cool sand and gravel. I was enthralled, and there was a distinct feeling similar to when I had been baptized. I thought that this was as close as I could come to finding a church for myself in our time.