Family time is like a treasure box that you open with anticipation, wondering what will be inside.

With my siblings in Santa Rosa, this is the first time we’ve gathered since Mom died. Not knowing how the others had been dealing with personal grief, I wondered how we’d embrace each other where we were.

It’s been beautiful.

With an acknowledgement of what’s been and the general path we’re each taking, it’s been a coming together of heart friends more than just siblings.

A gift.

That was underscored our first day together when we made a trek to Armstrong Woods, home of giant redwood trees. We all needed the chance to decompress, and what better place to do so than in the midst of some of the most magnificent trees I’ve seen. Breathtaking panoramas of old splendor and renewed growth.

I’m a Tolkein fan, and as we entered this national park, it felt like walking into a scene from Lord of the Rings. Ancient trees that could have been Ents (tree shepherds) and a backdrop of age-old foliage that looked as if they could be homes to hobbits or dwarves. Moss spread like carpets over the ground and around fallen trees. Huge redwoods with holes big enough to hide in–or live in, depending on your size.

The middle of a fantasy forest where awe and wonder were the only appropriate responses.

In the forest, our voices were quieter, our conversations more subdued as we walked on sun-dappled paths that led from one wonder to another. The beauty was vibrant, with an intensity of color and years that made me pause.

It felt like sacred ground.

I’ve been in places before that have captivated my soul and heart. The Grand Canyon. Mountain peaks in Colorado. The ocean. Places that reflect a majesty and beauty not limited to this world. Areas that manifest something greater than us. Even man-made creations–a basilica in Spain, a beautiful work of art like Van Gogh’s Starry Nights, musical compositions, like Handel’s Messiah–come from a depth of spirit that stirs my soul.

Being in these woods was being in a sanctuary. A place of peace, growth and beauty.

We all felt it. It calmed our conversation and spurred on thoughts of our Creator as we pointed out incredible vistas, walking through one awe-inspiring spot after another.

I need sanctuary. A place to be calm. Space to be still and quiet. A chance to hear the needs of my heart and think past the noise of the moment. To consider the bigger picture of what I’m a part of. To get past myself. To choose not to focus on me.

I have a Living Sanctuary.

There’s an incredible beauty to having Jesus as my Refuge, my Rock. I don’t live in an area of magnificent mountains or magical forests. The wonders of the world aren’t available. But Jesus is always accessible. Always available. Sitting with Him and hearing His voice in my heart, telling me how much I mean to Him, fills my soul.

No Rivendell required.

 

 

3 responses »

  1. Sheila says:

    Cool! Mirkwood Forest!! I would love to visit it, and of course the real one in Middle Earth!!

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