Of Mountains and Mosses

I am climbing a hill. The air is fresh and clean, the morning light still new. The landscape I am walking in has changed dramatically over the last 9 months. We have moved continents and cities and states. Sometimes I feel like my head is spinning with all the faces, climates and scenery we’ve experienced. From London, to California, to Oregon, God has been taking us on a wild adventure. The kind where you’re treading lightly and fast, trying as best you can to keep up, while the path twists and turns and often you can’t see around the next bend for all the bushes and brambles. I’ve never felt more alive.

The hill I am climbing is lined with massive trees – oaks, firs, maple. They are all draped with the most wonderful trailing moss, the angular rays of light distorting the shapes and angles so that I feel lost in ancient forest. The stillness and quiet of their massive old trunks seem to absorb the noise from the city below. I press on, eager for higher.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is a new thing, this regular time away every week, unencumbered by children or school bags or grocery lists or time constraints. For that I have to thank my husband, who for the sake of his own sanity and general health has banished me from the house every Friday morning. So I go, and I search… for stillness and quiet… climbing hills, drinking coffee, or reading a good book.

Without this time of searching, reaching out and up, something within me begins to shrivel. Within a week or two the cracks begin to show. Here I am getting shouty at the kids or resentful at Simon or hopeless and despondent at the never-ending list of list of chores and things to do and people to love and needs to serve. And the never-ending laundry basket. I swear I saw the bottom of it once. It was a weird sensation. I think there might be a dirty sock monster down there, so I threw in some towels to be safe.

Life is a very fast train that starts before dawn and doesn’t stop until late at night. It is fulfilling and stretching, extremely so, and yet every now and then my soul craves silence.

So yes, it is Friday morning, and here I am, surrounded by forest and grassy fields. The sunlight is warm, the grasses golden and speckled with seed heads. I want to run and jump through them wildly, prancing and leaping like our Cinnamon unleashed.

What is it about being in nature, so close to God’s creation, that elicits such peace and rejuvenation? I guess perhaps part of it is that it is just so still, and so peaceful, with majestic moss-draped trees and stretching blue sky, that it is almost as though nothing can shake it. It has been here for thousands of years, whereas I am simply a blip on the timeline.

As I plod upwards, revelling in muscles burning and stretching, the size and immovability of the hills, trees and nature around me is calming. I can hear the sounds of the city below…traffic humming, the occasional beep and siren. Always hurrying, hurrying, always building, conquering, achieving, doing. Such industry and bustle.

The hill does not care. These woods are unmoved. And they invite me up, up, to a perspective far above the small and claustrophobic parameters of daily life.

To feel the sun on my back and to see the birds flock from the trees so vibrant and free is to enter into the God-made world. To remember that all our building and planning and scheming is small compared with the vastness and majesty of the order of created life.

I sigh deeply, remembering how to still and quiet my soul. I am not the mover and shaker, not the one on whom it all rises and falls, not the maker of my or my children’s fortunes or any great enterprise. But I am one with the Creator of All and I feel him close. And to be known this way is to forget all else.

The trees know this…. Quiet and still, drinking in the sun, limbs outstretched to its life and light. In turn they give life to the birds, creatures and mosses that swarm up their branches. They cover the hills in beauty and lush greenness.

                              Chip Ross Park

                            The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it,
                               The world and those who dwell in it.
                                                                                Psalm 24:1

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