August 20, 2018
O Lord, I fear thou’st
Made the world too beautiful this year.
My soul is all but out of me.
– Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am sitting in front of my tent in Redcrest, California, looking at a group of young redwood trees standing in a tight circle. I say “young” because most of them have trunks that are only two to four feet in diameter, and they’re probably no more than 150 feet high.
Our campground is along the Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile-long road through grove after grove of ancient trees, some of which stand mere inches from the roadbed. They are massive. Their trunks measure in yards, and they stand up to 300 feet above the forest floor.
People flock to these trees, for good reason. As soon as you pass into their sphere, you enter a part of the world that knows what it means to stand steady in the light, to embrace stillness, and to live in grace. This is holy ground. You can’t be here without being changed, transformed. We were. It’s breathtaking to slowly ride a bicycle into these woods and to be with the living presence that each one of these trees is.
We take so much for granted—especially the stationary world—and so we sleepwalk through our life until something startles us awake. A bike ride can do that. Especially a bike ride among two-thousand-year-old trees who have held the purity of their nature inviolate through millennia of human frailty, vanity, and oblivion.
Spending time with these great beings, moving in their stillness, is an invitation to waken to a wider world, an expanded awareness, and a nascent recognition of our role as stewards.