Standing among the Redwood trees in California’s Richardson Grove State Park, I feel the presence of God so powerfully that I think everyone must feel it. After all, it’s where God lives (or at the very least a favorite vacation spot). The majesty, power, serenity and beauty of those towering giants all reflect and magnify God’s light as it streams earthward through the canopy on its way to the forest floor. Not even the densest morning fog can block it out. Nor can the automobile exhaust stop its life-giving force or overwhelm the aroma of the duff, the greenery, and the clean air that feeds all living things. Sight, smell, and sound —as the birds and animals sing their praises to the day the Creator has given —all combine to make the Redwoods the perfect place — Heaven on earth (except for the bugs).
There’s a pane on the quilt in the Community Building that expresses how that special place and its Spirit has touched me. My single awkwardly constructed block of fabric shows the road winding through those very same trees, lined on both sides by a split rail fence that must surely be the work of a master Carpenter. That stretch of road can’t be more than a quarter of a mile long, but God has etched that image into my brain so that I would have a special place to go when this world gets out of hand and too much to tolerate, as often seems to happen lately. One of God’s greatest gifts surely must be peace. And surely, there is no better place on the planet to find it than bathing in His smile in the Redwood trees of Richardson’s Grove.
* * *
Plip. Plip. Plip. Plip.
The tent leaks!
My first vacation in four years
and it’s raining heavy enough to float an ark.
The forest is dark and I can’t see the drops
falling from the canvas roof,
But I can hear them,
and I can feel them.
Each one is colder than the next;
each one moistening my already
uncomfortably damp bedding
a little more.
By morning I’ll feel like my waterbed burst
and I’m going under for the third time.
The afternoon sky had held
the grey promise of rain.
But, oh, what precautions I took
that my evening would not be so soggy!
I selected the site with the care of a new mother –
just the right place to avoid the runoff from the hills.
With my hatchet I leveled a spot
and covered it with soft green pine needles,
Then chipped out little furrows
that the water might not invade my temporary home.
How ironic that the source of my saturation
is from above
and not from the earth which I had groomed so attentively.
The dawn brings little prospect
of a drier night to come.
A little sun would do the trick,
but the overcast
and the dense trees
conspire against me.
The downpour has swollen and muddied the Eel
so that even fishing is impossible.
Why don’t I just give in,
pick up my gear,
climb into my car
and head home?
Home to the city
and the pollution
and the noise.
There can be only one reward of remaining here:
And perhaps a little solitude.
I smile as I slither back into my soppy sleeping bag.