I am working on a book called Endings and Beginnings: Guidance for Women in Transition. It is a compilation of the wisdom gained from hundreds of women worldwide in our Coming Into Your Own Programs. I wrote the last chapter a week ago. It is about the central core of our Being that is ever-present, as cycles of change come and go over the years. These are notes from my journal written early one morning. I thought they would honor the stillness that we share.
As I approached this chapter I felt the need for a particular atmospheric surround. Thus I am sitting in a redwood forest several hours from our home in Oregon writing this chapter. A coveted campsite opened up quite unexpectedly, so I have settled into the stillness of these first growth sentinels. This morning I walked across a crystal clear river to a special and protected grove. These standing people, as the Tolowa people called these trees, have stood in place for an average of 600 years—some as long as 2,000 years. I intuitively whisper to call my dog, because I am in a cathedral and in the presence of elders. I well up with tears. Internal chatter recedes. I feel myself in right relationship with the Great Mother and am engulfed in silence.
I rose early to walk in this grove at dawn. As I walked on the soft path under the dark canopy, I found myself wondering why this patch of ground is a National Park. Clearly, it is to preserve the last four percent of the old-growth redwoods on the west coast from man’s encroaching greed. And, I thought, something more, too, draws people from all over the world to slowly walk this circular pathway. I think people come from far and wide to inhabit a part of themselves that is in danger of being subsumed by the clamor of the world we live in.
My pondering is pierced by the presence of a dark skinned young woman walking toward me on the path. My dog greeted her eagerly, and the three of us walked a ways together. I asked her why she was here in this place, at this hour. She said it reminded her of Bodhgaya, India where the Bodhi tree is. That site, she explained, is a Mecca for Buddhists who travel from afar to walk round and round on the path that encircles the descendant of the tree under which the Buddha awoke. She told me that she was Iranian, and had come here to ease the sorrow of a devastating childhood filled with ancestral abuse of her sisters, mother, cousins, aunts and grandmother.
Clear cuts come close to the boundaries of the small park. But these majestic trees stand simply and profoundly in quietude, radiating the spirit of their presence. The path around these redwood giants reminds me of the ever-turning cycles of endings, transitions, new beginnings, and long-term tending that tumble through our lives. At our center, though, is this ever-present spirit of Being, carried by these sacred trees. The preciousness of eternal being is worth at least a National Park. It is OK now to drive inland, into a world of extreme temperatures, smoke and forest fires. All is in proportion.