Monday, July 4, 2011


Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, 1927

I feel a peace in the woods that I can feel nowhere else. Here, surrounded by green in all its glorious shades and hues, I truly feel God's presence. I am a part of this earth, as He intended me to be; my senses are sharpened and alive, freed from the various distractions that life is full of. My eyes feast on this beauty and never tire of it.

I am surrounded by trees, their trunks in various sizes and shapes climbing every skyward in search of precious light. Their foliage forms a canopy above me, filters and scatters the light to the growth below.

Thickly covered with mosses and looking like wizened old sages, the Big Leaf maples stand at intervals. The huge trees divide and branch early in their lives and continue to do so, as many sturdy straight branches grow upward.

Their leaves have a distinct lacy appearance and stand out bright green against the darker, muted shades of the cedars.

I am awed by the size of some of them, but they feel like comfortable old friends. I wonder at the variety of creatures which surely find homes among the nooks and crannies of their gnarled, rough bark.

The cedars are different, with a single straight, linear-barked trunk - their branches growing straight out around the trunk or curving gracefully down.

Distinct among the evergreens, their needles appear fern-like, lush, and compact. The huge ones dwarf everything around them, standing aloof and regal.

Smaller around, but standing out in their own way, are the gray, smooth-barked, straight trunks of the Red Alders.  

In my mind's eye, I trace their trunks with a brush and oil paints, gently forming them with slightly rounded back and forth strokes - streaks of Burnt Umber contrasting with the lightened Payne's Grey.
High above, their smaller leaves form a wonderful, spattered pattern against the sky and other foliage.

At ground level the sword ferns - growing in neat clumps as if lovingly placed by a gardener - grow in upright, orderly fashion.

Their meticulously precise fronds are large, easily waist to shoulder high to me.

Below them the matted, tangled growth of the forest floor grows lush - richly nourished with centuries of decay from the leaves and branches of all that have gone before.

And I, feeling very small and insignificant, stand among this grandeur. I, too, am nourished by all those who have gone before; by their struggles, efforts, and faith. I stand tall - for I am a child of the universe, meticulously formed. I breathe deeply, marvel at this burgeoning life, and know that none of it is random. 

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
     the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you;
     and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
     that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
     and the breath of every human being.
                           Job 12: 7-10


  1. Being in the forest like that is like going to church for me. This was awesome! Thanks for sharing each and every one of these pictures. :)

  2. beautiful pictures!! nothing is more magnificent...or can make you FEEL more magnificent...then to be in the forest...in the thickness of it all...noticing the gigantic...and the small...

  3. I just printed the entire Desiderata after being reminded of it here. It's great advice. Also, Idaho Beauty is in Sand Point. Have a great weekend.

  4. Makes me remember the time we were walking in Grand Forest--the trees are soooo beautiful and majestic--we were commenting on the beauty of God's creation and my six year old said, "They named this place wrong. They should have called it 'The Trail of God'."