The Forest Temple

[travel journal excerpt, 15/5/16]

A friend led me to a forest temple in Petula village, tucked and hidden outside of Ubud.  It wasn’t a very official or grandiose temple, and maybe it wasn’t even a temple.  There were some shrines and some baths that dispensed water from the river that ran through the forest.  The local people called it sacred water, but it appeared to be just clean water for bathing and drinking.  I didn’t really know what to do there.  With my phone and camera gone, I couldn’t take any pictures or videos.

My friend bathed first, washing himself in the river water that flowed from some carved stone fountains that the villagers used.  He did a little prayer motion with his hands and continued bathing.  I followed suit, washed my face and chest, put my hands together as in prayer, but I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I was a bit anxious because there were some villagers waiting to do their thing.  I felt guilty for using their space for some sort of amusement or whatever.  I motioned to my friend, indicating that we should leave; we left the fountain and began to leave the forest.  A man smiled at me as he took my place in front of the stone fountain.  I passed an old woman bathing alone in front of another stone fountain and continued through the forest, leaving the fountains behind me.

An enormous spider caught my eye as it sat in its web that was spun between two thin, tall trees.  I stopped in my tracks and just stared for a moment.  My friend continued walking, perhaps not realizing that I had stopped.  I’m not sure why I stopped – perhaps to marvel at this spider or maybe to just really take it all in so that I could remember the scene.  I looked at the serene, green forest and listened to the tranquil, flowing water.  For a moment, I was the forest; and time slowed down.  I blinked, and the weight of my eyelids shut the light from me for what could have been a lifetime.  The forest looked back at me as if it were another person.  It was kind.  And I felt God.

“Thank you,” I whispered.  And I was at peace.