The “Cactus Rock” at Deer Thicket Sanctuary

Have you ever walked alone through the woods naked before? I have. It feels like peace. It feels natural. You can feel yourself embracing the animal that you are, your true essence. You feel every stick under your feet, every bug that lands on you, every blade of grass, and every branch that brushes against your skin. There is no barrier between you and nature. It is liberating and wild. I’ve only experienced such freedom at Deer Thicket Sanctuary before, last summer. And there was one thing that made the experience so much more pure and meditative: The “cactus rock” as I’ve named it. The “cactus rock” is magical, and the main reason I visit my family friend’s 83 acres of land in Kernersville, NC.

I arrive at Deer Thicket Sanctuary with a motive in mind. I’m going to get to that “cactus rock” and relive my previous experience, but clothed. As I drive on the gravel road towards the woods, I see my family friend’s house and their two dogs who are running towards me to greet me. The trees around me are all naked without their leaves, the sky a bright blue backdrop. As I step out of my car I feel a cool breeze across my face causing me to grab my hat and bundle up some more. I walk towards the yurt located in a field on their land. I go towards what’s familiar, although there is so much more land to explore. I stroll through the thin patch of woods, crunching the dry leaves beneath my feet. It is extremely still and quiet; I feel as if I’m being watched and I probably am, considering I am surrounded by so much life. I get to the field and I finally see “the cactus rock”. This flat rock is embedded in the ground in the middle of the field, surrounded by cacti. The cacti during the spring and summer look much different from now; most of the cacti are shriveled and have turned a purple-red color, so it is much easier to step over the shrunken cacti barrier. When I step on the rock, I see Pilot Mountain from my stoop. I lay down on the rock and feel the familiar feeling of the magical cactus rock giving me a high sensation- a meditative, calm, centered experience that I’ve only ever felt here. I feel one with the earth, connected to everything around me. I almost feel light-headed, but yet so strong and powerful. I feel like my spirit is grounded to the very core of the earth, connected to the universe and higher power. This is my church. I pull out my book and start reading Mary Oliver’s poetry, as it feels appropriate for the occasion.

Below are images of the “cactus rock”, the shriveled cacti, and a view of the yurt from the rock.

Below is a map showing the coordinates of the “cactus rock”.

I start to hear the sound of a woodpecker ferociously pecking a nearby tree, so I look up from the compelling poetry in my hands. It is still so quiet around me that the sound is almost deafening. I look at the woodpecker and laugh at him and his natural, but awkward movements. I start to look at the trees directly above me and I can see the moon through the branches. I love this place and I can’t wait to return and explore the places I’ve never been.

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