God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, “Ah!” – Joseph CampbellEdisto Island is a sea island, nine miles wide. And even though water surrounds it and rivers run through it, the island is mostly a wild Eden maritime forest of womanly live oaks thick with fern and Spanish moss. It is rare preserved land in a world drunk on development.
The road out to the island is National Scenic Byway from Highway 17. For twenty miles It snakes through tree tunnels by marshlands, over rivers. I call that road “church” for it serves to nourish and soothe one’s spirit, a reminder of the rhythms and tides of the seasons, of this Mother, earth.
Joseph Campbell, the great mythologist, spent his life studying what the world’s great religions had in common. Truth, he taught, is what the poets and the artists know. It is less about the historical facts and more about the metaphors that can make it all alive to us right now. Today. It IS about the under glimmer, like Basho says.This island is Eden with trees shaped like dancing women. Trees that nurture Resurrection Fern. This island is Eden with serpents (with a real Serpentarium that harvests life saving venom) symbolizing our ability to shed our skins and make our lives anew. This island is Eden in its dark, forested, labyrinthine paths. It is Eden with her deer and her fish and her Ibis. It is Eden with her Beekeepers, who protect the food of the gods.
And all this Eden is surrounded by La Mer, which means both Mother and the Sea.