Last night was the start of an annual camp event that was a part of my life for many years. Recently I have missed the event. I realize that my Redwood memories are etched deep within my heart and soul. At the core what floods my senses are the relationships, music, and silence that always came with the ten days. On the fringes, I can smell the scene of the redwood forest, feel the dust finding a home within my jeans, socks, and shoes, and remember the silence the envelopes one in the foggy laced light of a new day. My body shivers with the cool air. The stillness reminds me of what I do not hear. The scent of alfalfa subtly reminds me that it is good to be a child.
I sit in the predawn darkness of a tropical island, wondering if the team has everything ready for opening night. I know it will come together. I also know there will be last minute glitches, unknowns, and a sense of anticipation.
As I think of how my life has been shaped by my Redwood experience. Even with defining moments, wow events, and life turns, the change process is more subtle and enduring than I understood. The redwood forest stands majestic, untouched. Each year I would return to find subtle changes. I remember a tree lying on the forest floor because of a winter storm and train tracks overgrown with weeds because of changing economic conditions. The more I noticed the changes the easier it was to recognize that the forest itself was changing because it was doing the stuff that forests do, living.
The roads to the campsites were full of twists and turns. The location was hours from a major city. After the first year or two, as one made the trek north on Highway 101 the anticipation always started to build. “What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him makes it.” (Psalm 18.30)
I close my eyes and know; God is engaged.