As a teacher, back to school time causes me to reflect on my summer. One of my big questions every year is, “Did I get enough time in the forest, along the seashore, sitting near a river, sitting in my front yard soaking in the peace of the day and the trees that surround me?” To return to school feeling nourished and ready for “people time,” this time in nature is essential to my soul.
If I pause and ask myself, “Why?”, I realize that this deep love of nature is at my deepest core, and for me that core is my connectedness to God. I often find that when I walk by the sea, I am talking with God about what is on my mind. It is a moving sanctuary, just as the stillness of the forest becomes a sacred space that helps me gain perspective and gives me a gentle reminder of the quiet power of a Bigger Presence.
In my deep love of nature, I find that stewardship for the earth becomes essential as well. I want to always have this beauty around me, these places to go for renewal. I knew long ago that I wanted to do what I could to ensure that my children, and generations of children to come, would have vast forests and free-flowing rivers to seek out and find waiting for them.
This led me to participate in Oregon Wild’s Adopt-A-Wilderness program when my children were young. I became an advocate for the Roaring River Roadless Area. Many friends, including the Friends here at West Hills, joined with me to become the hands and voices working together on behalf of these 27,500 acres in the Mount Hood National Forest. Roaring River was designated as Wilderness twelve years later, and I am grateful for this every day.
When I go to Roaring River and sit on the rocks, watching the sparkling fresh mountain water flow freely by, I sit quietly. Here I find God and whisper prayers.
Just this morning, I was at the beach. As I looked down from the cliff, three coyotes trotted up the shore. When I walked along the shore myself, I stopped to lean in to see the starfish clinging to the rocks. A wave surprised me from behind, soaking my shoes, cold, and fresh and startling. I watched the pounding waves break over and over with fleeting spray. In all of this, I felt touched to my very core. In all of this, I knew God. And I take it with me wherever I go.
Roaring River by Leslie Logan