Rob and I are photographing together this week in northern California. We have been concentrating on the magnificent redwood groves found in the area. Walking amongst these incredibly large trees has a way of making you feel quite small. I actually feel a sense of reverence in the presence of these giant specimens. Rob and I have paused many times just to express our sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of God’s Creation found here.
In the forest here I, too, feel “hints of gladness.” The giant trees lift my spirits and bring me joy. They point me to the One who created this world. They also remind me of how trees play a vital role in the Scriptures from beginning to end. Mary Oliver talks about how she can almost say the trees save her and I understand what she means. They bring peace in a troubled world. But the Bible connects trees and salvation even more closely when it points us to the Cross upon which Jesus died for the sins of the world. As much as I am humbled and made to feel small by the redwoods of California, the Cross humbles me even more. It is there, more than anywhere else, I see God’s greatness and my smallness. It is there, more than anywhere else, I see the love of God.
(Both of the images above were taken at Humboldt Redwoods State Park yesterday.)
While in the redwood groves yesterday I thought about a poem I recently came across in Mary Oliver’s book, Thirst. It is called “When I Am Among Trees.” She writes: “When I am among the trees, especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness. I would almost say that they save me, and daily. I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness, and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly, and bow often. Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out, ‘Stay awhile.’ The light flows from their branches. And they call again, ‘It’s simple,’ they say, ‘and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.’”