Walking through a redwood forest along the coast of northern California or Oregon is an unforgettable experience. A great grace finds me. The same reverential awe stirs within whenever I step into a great medieval Cathedral in England or northern France. Spiritual values and history lessons are obtainable from both environments.
Before I took the nature trail in Humboldt Redwoods Park, Facebook shared memories from that day-four years ago. I was leading a Vacation Bible School in “South Fork”, Colorado. Today I stand in the place called home from time immemorial for the Sinkyone people. Sink-yo-kok is the Indian word for the “South Fork” of the Eel River. Father God was letting me know that these people and this place matter to him.
I like how my mind slows down in a redwood grove. The majestic giants command respect and attention. I enjoy the silence and solitude all around. I breathe more deeply too. I can hear myself think. I sense my small stature when I’m surrounded by trees that are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth.
A great stillness and peace surround me. There’s a real power and grace in standing still for thousands of years. “Be still, and know that I am God” comes to mind. (Psalm 46:10). Tables and chairs are sculpted from fallen trees. This gets me thinking about learning how to sit still, at a desk and in a chair, at primary school. It was a learned skill for me. In a transient world where everything is more disposable, stillness allows us to be present for others. The forest is a good teacher of simple things.
My foot-steps become amplified, walking on the forest carpet through Gould Grove. Other sounds are reduced to the musical gurgle of water trickling amidst ferns and mossy rocks. I lift my eyes to the tops of the trees. They ‘re twice the height of the Statute of Liberty. It’s no wonder scientists took so long to discover the hanging gardens at the top of the redwoods. Climbing to the top is dangerous work.
On the river trail leading to my car I greet a giant fallen redwood from 912 A.D. Other date tags, on the innards of the tree provide a free history lesson :
1000 Vikings discover N America
1096 University of Oxford founded
1218 Genghis Khan conquers Persia
1620 Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
1773 Boston Tea Party
Walking through a redwood forest is a wonderful way to increase spiritual awareness. Thank you for journeying with me. Here’s a Jewish man singing about Jesus and the spirit in the sky on rare footage from French TV !