I climbed again to Papa’s Rock on Thursday, for two reasons: because it would have been my father’s 86th birthday, and because it was snowing.
My father loved the woods when snow was falling, and so do I. It is the most quiet experience I know, more restful in its way than the deepest sleep. The air, still. The squirrels, silent, wrapped in their own tails. Slow your breath; listen to the snow fall. Feel the pinpricks of cold as flakes find their way to your neck. It’s other-worldly.
Something moves me when I’m in the woods, and it’s something more than what I can see, hear, and touch. It’s something more than I feel inside our church. There I feel a connection to other people, which is the essence of community. But in the woods, I feel a connection to something bigger than all of us. I feel God -- a word I say without knowing exactly what I mean by it. How can I, if it’s bigger than I am?
I am not sure my father would have expressed it that way. I wish I could ask. In his last years in Florida he was drawn to an Evangelical prayer group, and his way of sharing the experience sometimes made me a little uncomfortable.
But he never stopped loving the woods. So I trust that he never stopped feeling the power of that experience either.
Crossing the creek on the way to Papa's Rock.
Papa's Rock, covered in its cold cushion.
I always feel a little guilty, being the first to disturb fresh snow.
Happy birthday, Dad.