October 10, 2017

Weekly Reflection – The Forest Is My Home

Weekly Reflection – The Forest Is My Home

The Forest is My Home: I find myself more and more at home living in the piney forest area of East Texas, surrounded by 150 or more trees on our property.  Not far away is “my solitary place”, a small, heavily wooded island in the middle of Lake Palestine, about 17 minutes from home.  For me there is nothing better than spending a day alone on the island. There really is something to being “one with nature”.

Recently, I was impressed by how, on my island, the trees, animals, birds, fish, and even the snakes and alligators seem to live in some form of mutually supportive community.  Yes, some must die so that others may live.  But overall they are “one”.  I love to sit quietly, becoming “one” among them, simply listening and observing.  Bernard of Clairveaux once observed that, “You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”

This morning the sun was almost ready to rise as I paddled to the island (2 KM in 45 minutes).  The sky was still dim, so much so that I could see the reflection of the moon in the dead calm water. The heavens weren’t brilliant orange as they often are.  However, the sun’s rays spread across the sky like a cosmic fan.  Fish “flopped” from time to time all around me, producing ever-expanding bulls eye ringlets of water.  I floated in my kayak-like canoe right up to a flock of large billed birds that were still in slumber before the coming day’s never ending search for food.

Eventually, the splash-splash of my paddle blades roused them and they took off in masse, quacking in a flurry of white, flapping wings.  All that before even getting to the island!  And the forest was so quiet.  The only sounds came from the birds, fish surfacing, and a train crossing the inflowing river up stream of the lake.  There was just a hint of breeze under the clearing sky.  At this moment my world, like that of the water, was calm indeed!  No hurricanes.  No threat of nuclear war.  No illness in the family to attend to.  No hunger.  No TV.  Just me, nature and God.

The Bible speaks often of “Sabbath”, of getting away from the daily grind.  Jesus frequently “went to a solitary place”.  I can attest to the value of such a practice.  Each of us leads a very full life, lives filled with work, problems, and tensions.  May we remember to make time to get away to whatever our individual  “solitary place” is.  Try it.  You’ll like it.  And you will be blessed.

Chaplain Allen

Read more reflections, Brilliant Autumn Leaves