Opening the Canopy

When I was a boy, my grandparents bought me a coloring book of California. I colored pictures of Disneyland, the Pacific Highway, and the Redwood Forest. On one of my pages was an outline of a car driving through a hole cut into one of the giant Redwoods. I was mesmerized. I couldn't imagine a tree that big. I wanted to see it in person. To touch it and feel its strength, but at five years old, the Redwood Forest might as well have been on another planet. Great wooden giants that were large enough to drive through lodged elusively as a distant dream in a young boy's imagination.

I did not love the Redwood Forest. But I thought I could love the Redwood Forest were I to experience it. Through the years, I had been teased by the romance of possibility that one day I might stand in the stillness of this fantastic forest.

While considering a week of sabbath rest, a hint of wonder swept across my memories and fanned the embers of that childhood desire. My assistant booked me a flight to Northern California and finally, some 40 years later I would spend time in that great palace of wooded splendor. 

I wasn’t disappointed.

The forest was captivating. Walking through the pine needles and staring up into the sunlight bouncing across the leaves above, ancient majesty sung out its songs of longing and praise. The melody wasn't one you listened to with your ears. It was a transcendence that moved through you.

The quiet, the smells, the grandeur. At times journal in hand, I sat, listened, and absorbed the ruminations of such a timeless place. In other moments I walked, mile after mile and listened to the titans as they told tall tales. The forest offered an enduring invitation to be present. And on occasion I accepted. Fully immersed. Aware of nothing and everything in the same breath. I felt home and on another realm simultaneously. It was unforgettable.

I love the Redwood Forest. 

I thought I might. 

But now I do.

Before I visited I knew about it. But my knowing was limited, distant.

I didn’t truly know what the trees were like until I was in their presence. Until I experienced their glory. 

Their glory was on display not just in their life but also in their death.

They transformed themselves into unselfish logs of legacy.

I wrote down the words from a sign giving the trees their due:

Trees falling in the forest open the canopy to light and expose the raw soil necessary for a successful start. Massive logs on the forest floor provide nurseries for new life.


Pray this prayer to God. "Lord may my life stand tall and true in face of trial and tribulation displaying your goodness and mercy. And in my death, may my absence create space for new seedlings to sprout and grow. Would you let my story lay open as fertile ground for new life."