Our Collective Journal

October/November 2011

 

"I have often felt a motion of love to leave some hints in

writing of my experience of the goodness of God." 

--John Woolman  

 

Chapter 3

How have you experienced 

God's Presence in nature?

 

 

Photo Credits:  Mark Pratti-Russum, Moss covered log Redwood Forest CA   


Wonder

The first time I remember feeling and knowing there was a God, something with a felt conscious­ness that was in all, occurred when I was 3 years old sitting and leaning on our old garage as the sun set over the fields in Oklahoma.  The completeness of being alone and the "presence" of the evening... [more]

 
 

Therefore Keep Watch

In June of 2007 I saw a crow in the neighbor's swimming pool (down the hill from us) that looked like it was trying to get out and couldn't. Other crows were flying about. I ran down, put my hand under it, it sat on my hand, and I lifted it out. It was small... [more]

 
 

Elizabeth's day lilies

In February of 2002 my wife Elizabeth passed away unexpectedly. Fortunately we had talked about each other’s wishes for after death, although I had not thought I would be following those wishes so early in our life. As she requested, Elizabeth was cremated and when spring came I brought her ashes to my parents’ property... [more]

 
 

Hallowed Be Thy Name

For many years I returned to an island in Maine for a few weeks in June. It was a quiet time, still between seasons, no longer spring but not yet full summer. The ferry ride to the island was an hour long ritual of shedding my winter skin, my city skin and settling into a... [more]

 
 

Richardson Grove

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... [more]

 
 

No Doubt Now

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel God’s presence in nature, but I do remember when I couldn’t put a name to the amazing wonder, beauty, and peace I felt whenever I was immersed in it. I’ve always felt that presence flowing around and through me, filling my senses, mind, and heart with... [more]

 
 

The Perfect Stillness

Almost exactly three years ago, Beth and I were celebrating our honeymoon in southern Oregon. We had rented a cabin located deep into the Cascade Mountains. On August 9th, I entered this into my journal:

 

Beth and I went exploring today. We made our way through paths of pine trees, and impressive cedars. The smell of... [more]

 
 

Boulders in the Desert

Allan Hunter was on his knees right beside me stretching out over the pond to see the pollywogs.  “Look!  That one has hind legs now.  How’d that happen, Patty Lou?”   I remember trying to answer his impossibly huge questions.  Trips to the park with Allan, our minister, began very early in my life and were... [more]

 
 

A Walk in the Garden

I awoke one fall morning to discover a dense, dripping fog.  I dressed extra warmly and headed over to the Rhododendron Garden, one of my most reliable places to encounter God.  I parked my bike and ambled down the winding path, noting the rich visual texture of the early fall colors wrapped in fog.  I... [more]

 
 

Surrounded by Life

For more than 20 years, I have lived in the same house.  Sometimes, I think about what the place would have been like as wilderness, many years ago.   It would have been a hillside.  Even today, heavy rains will form a creek on the downhill edge of my property. 

 

The ground is clay.  Whatever sunlight reaches... [more]

 
 

Nature's Lessons

That the sun shines and the rain falls

     on good creatures and bad,

 

That seeds must die that plants

     may live,

 

That great trees grow from

     tiniest of seeds,

 

That living things give their lives

     so that others may eat,

 

That everything around us teaches

     about life, death, love,

     being,

     change, and mystery,

     ----in full color and

     more than... [more]

 
 

Moving Sanctuary

As a teacher, back to school time causes me to reflect on my summer. One of my big questions every year is, “Did I get enough time in the forest, along the seashore, sitting near a river, sitting in my front yard soaking in the peace of the day and the trees that surround me?”... [more]

 
 

The Dance

She feels her heart pound.  She rises to the balls of her feet to shift into motion.  Gravity pulls on her bones as her weight tumbles forward.  The fall and catch of running takes her in a large arc.  She controls the momentum for a moment to hang suspended in time and space.  Her arms... [more]

 
 

The Book of Nature

When I was 21 I began observing the moon. I was well versed in the natural history and geology of my environment, but was woefully ignorant of how the sun and the moon cycles worked. Maybe I was inspired by the clear skies in Southern Oregon or my continuing interest in nature based spirituality. Maybe... [more]

 
 

Coming Home Again for the First Time

I grew up as a child on my grandfather’s almond ranch in the flat, chemically controlled farmland of California’s Central Valley. I couldn’t wait to get out. The place seemed to have no nature and no culture. Two years of college did not still my restless spirit. It was the Vietnam War era and I... [more]

 
 

Above the Treeline

There often exists a fine line between adventurous zeal and myopic irresponsibility.  My husband and I have erased it several times in several places.  In one quite memorable case, God protected us, strengthened us and blew our socks off.

 

It was nearing the end of summer 1994.  Our plates were typically full and overflowing, so inserting... [more]

 
 

 

Stories in this Chapter

 

Wonder

 

Therefore Keep Watch

 

Elizabeth's day lilies

 

Hallowed Be Thy Name

 

Richardson Grove

 

No Doubt Now

 

The Perfect Stillness

 

Boulders in the Desert

 

A Walk in the Garden

 

Surrounded by Life

 

Nature's Lessons

 

Moving Sanctuary

 

The Dance

 

The Book of Nature

 

Coming Home Again for the First Time

 

Above the Treeline