OCTOBER 16, 2017
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.
Chaplain Allen's forest!
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.