The third lesson of my initiation is Joy.
Where I went to learn this lesson, I cannot say; this was a place reserved for initiates alone, as I understand it: I believe druidkirk and I are the only ones who have been there, and we both visited this place (though we came from different directions and found different things) in our journeys, even though no guidance was given to us by our initiators. This lesson is also virtually ineffable, so please bear with me as I seek to explain it.
I had traveled far, and this was my last stop. I had traveled through fear, through solitude, and through specific lessons that I must learn and teach others. I wondered what this last place have in store.
In this place, though, there was a garden, something I did not expect to find.
It was a beautiful garden, much like those lavish and architectural gardens of Europe, typified by the gardens at Versallies, Chateau de Villandry, or even an English garden. Within it, there was a grove of trees, and this is where I was drawn to.
Some trees in the grove were older, some were younger, and a few were simply saplings. Some were oaks, some ashes, and some were yews or hawthorns or willows. Each had been touched by the gardener in some way: nudged to grow straighter, trimmed to remove dead wood, replanted from another grove to flourish here, or supported while the roots deepened and the branches reached for sunlight. What I found was that I was standing in the midst of my Grove, and that each tree was an individual: member, friend, or brand-new-shiny Druid. I could identify trees by name, I was so certain of each one. I could also see that they were each others' strength in the storm.
I never met the keeper of this garden, nor did I meet any other figure there, but what I knew, simply from standing in this garden and this grove, was the simple joy of the gardener. It was present everywhere, permeating all things: a joy borne of love, time, and care for every detail and every individual plant and tree and animal within. This is not a garden meant to feed the body, but one meant to feed the soul.
The gardener gardens because it is right to do so, and his work brings out the artfulness of the cosmos. Each plant is placed in relation to others "just so," while others are righted when they begin to grow wrong. This maintains that artful universe, that rta or *xartus where all things have their place, and are in their place. Small changes have large impacts, and a gentle nudge has deep effects on the path the garden takes.
Here is the lesson: the gardener who gardens for food and sustenance may find health and a reduction in hunger; but the gardener who tends his garden with love will see the fruits of his labour not in the things that garden produces to sustain the body, but in the simple joy of the work that sustains the soul. That is what this Grove is for me: simple, complete joy. The work that we do must not be for advancement or position, but for joy in the garden that we tend. The personal growth of our members is what drives us on, what brings us pleasure, not increases in status or stature on our own. It is, then, up to us to seek that joy, to bring it forth, and to draw others to it so that they may have their soul nourished with this joy as well.
So these are the ways, visible to the community, that I will work to fulfill the third charge the Kindreds placed upon me during my initiation.