We lived next door to the playground, and beyond the playground lay the woods. All gone now, of course–playground, woods, and all. Everything paved over. But come along with me, I know a way back in.
Deep in the woods, a little ways past Hangman’s Tree, was Soldiers Path. Now of course any woods visited every day by children is bound to be full of paths leading all over; but this path was different.
For one thing, it didn’t really take you anywhere: it just sort of petered out. If you traced it back to its origin, you found the same thing. This was a path from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular.
But even more unusual, this path was made of cinders. Someone, Heaven knows how long ago, meant for this path to last for many years. Certainly it outlasted whatever it was going to, and whatever it was coming from.
Kid legend invested Soldiers Path with all kinds of improbable stories. This was the official path by which criminals were taken to Hangman’s Tree and strung up. No, it was a path made by the Hessians so they could march quickly through the woods. I heard that story long before I had the foggiest idea what a Hessian was: I don’t know why, but I somehow got the idea that a Hessian was a kind of gigantic insect.
We also believed that if you went out there late at night, you could see condemned criminals or Hessians marching on Soldiers Path; but I never heard of anyone who was brave enough to make that experiment.
What I wouldn’t give to tread that path again! But if C.S. Lewis was right, when he speculated that all the places that we love on earth are only facsimiles of the real places in Christ’s Kingdom–well, I may. I may.