I did not write the essay below but only wish I had. When I read it, it was as if the author had read not only my mind but my heart. The Woods is a sacred, special place for my for many reasons. Someday I will be able to articulate those reasons as well as Dave Cox.
“They look like old-fashioned pot metal with appropriate signs of age: scrapes, dents and paint blemishes. Those gates at the entrance of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods are signs of protection, along with a sense of strength and security.
If you look around, there’s nothing unusually striking about the surroundings: aged brick walls at the gateway, granite signs identifying the Sisters of Providence and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College as permanent dwellers. Age-old trees form a canopy along the main drive. A small bungalow stands as sentry off to one side.
But, just cross that threshold. Move through those gates. Something happens. Some explain it as a pinch of magic dust that flutters down to greet visitors, especially first-timers. Where does it come from? What is it? How does it change you?
That special feeling stays with you. You know you are in a special place: physically, emotionally and spiritually. You can sense the peace. You are in awe of the natural beauty. You embrace the spirituality. You feel like you are home.
“For those who have never visited Saint Mary’s, I say you need to drive through those gates and no words need to be spoken, for instantly you feel the presence of specialness that will always remain tucked away in your heart,” said Jeanne Stanbaugh, assistant executive director of the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau, who has a significant role in promoting the Woods as a destination for visitors.
“Sixteen years ago, I first entered the gates at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. To this day, each time I return and re-enter the gates, I am totally at peace. It’s like coming home,” she said.
Maybe it’s not magic dust at all. Maybe it’s your first blessing as you step onto holy ground.”