My Enchanted Place
“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” ~Elizabeth Lawrence
The continent of Africa is dotted with magnificent waterfalls. Most notably, of course, is Victoria Falls. Which, I am ashamed to say I have never been to visit. Much less notable, but no less important in my life (and visited quite regularly), is the waterfall hidden in the valley near Brackenhurst Baptist International Conference Center. It has no official name so I hereby christen the site “Bracken Falls” as I think it needs some sort of moniker.
When driving to Brackenhurst from the capital city of Nairobi one ascends from five thousand feet above sea level to seven thousand five hundred feet along Limuru Road where the conference center lies tucked into the rolling highland hills. The entrance is marked by two square whitewashed columns but from there the road twists down a steep incline, slips around the pond in the valley and winds its way back up the opposing incline where Brackenhurst rests sprawled across the hilltop. The pond is simply a resting point for the stream which flows into it from one end of the valley and flows out … under the road … at the opposite end. It is this waterway that creates Bracken Falls farther downstream in the thick of the forest.
From my earliest school age memories I remember making weekly (often daily) pilgrimages to Bracken Falls. I would walk down the winding road that led into Brackenhurst and hang a sharp left onto the steep foot worn path that dropped through the forest and into the valley. Here the stream merely trickled. Part way back up the opposite valley wall I would turn right and maneuver across the forest floor parallel to the stream often pausing to pick up a stray porcupine quill. The sound of the waterfall revealed its existence before I plunged through a final obstacle of brush but it was always there … waiting for me. Small … falling only eight, maybe nine, feet. It was a refuge. I would take a book to read or a journal to write in while I sat. Sometimes I would just sit and listen to the falling water and the occasional overhead monkeys in the trees. I introduced many a new friend to what I felt was my own personal waterfall and there were times that it became more playground and less refuge, but I didn’t mind.
I wonder if my waterfall is still there or if civilization has crept down the valley and consumed it. I hope not. If it is still there I hope that its presence has been passed down by those of us who loved Bracken Falls so that more children have a place in the forest where they can go to sit, read or play in this secret garden … this enchanted place of childhood.