When describing his beloved Sierra Nevada (and I assume the outdoors in general), John Muir once said, “everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” As both my illness and age have advanced, I have taken these words to heart. Whether I choose to turn to the Pacific’s ocean waves, the rolling hills of wine country or the majesty of the mountains, nature and all it holds~its peace, its life, even its stories~is a medicine like no other.
On occasion I go to visit the Sequoias in the Sierra. These are known as the largest trees on earth, different from their more slender brothers and sisters on this state’s north coast, known as the world’s tallest. It amazes me how this one state, this one spot in this one country, is the only place on earth these living beings call home; where so many things had to unfold just right to make their existence possible.
On my last visit I came upon a baby barely three feet tall, overcome with morning rain on its bright green, yearning, yet overburdened branches; like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree bending under the weight of a too heavy glass Christmas ball. And then I looked around to see its relatives, hundreds of feet tall and for some of them thousands of years old; mere babies in the time of Christ, or when other great civilizations existed. A profound reminder that my time here, our time, is a mere blip in this vast scheme of life; but also a reminder of a different sort. One of opportunity, faith, hope, miracles and perseverance.
If you are lucky enough to call California home, or are lucky enough to ever visit, take some time to see the Sequoias of the Sierra Nevada, or the taller and equally as majestic redwoods of the north coast. You will never view this earth, its wonders, and even yourself the same way again.