“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.”
~ John Steinbeck
I recently went “underground” on personal retreat for two days. The objective was to restore, replenish and call back the energy that was sent in a million directions over the year.
Driving down into the coastal redwoods along the ridge-back of King’s Mountain, I began to feel the majesty and mysticism this land held. There was a veil of afternoon fog allotting for about 50 feet of visibility along Skyline Drive as if to say, “almost, but not yet.”
Upon entering the retreat center there were stones lining the path carved with individual messages, “How far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go?”
As I was shown to my room, each door along the corridor was marked with nameplates honoring higher states of consciousness, i.e., Samadhi, Equanimity, Compassion. I was led to Forgiveness.
My immediate thought was: “Hmm, I’ve already worked on forgiveness, there’s really nothing more for me to contemplate on that one,” and just chalked it up to random coincidence—coincidence really being an illusion to what we inherently know is present. Being through my fair share of betrayals and violations, perhaps there was a fragment still hiding out to be acknowledged.
It was in the following morning meditation when I discovered one of these pieces. Hidden deep in my belly was an anger which never found its voice. A nagging frustration at the Divine.
I’ve allowed myself to be angry with the people who were the cornerstones of these betrayals, yet I found that I also had unresolved grievances with the Divine and its crafty inner workings. Yet, as soon as the bubbling of anger arrived it dissolved into the vast pool of heart space and faith I hold for this higher wisdom which I aligned with long before entering this plane. It was that effortless.
Pema Chodron has said, “Openness doesn’t come from resisting our fears, but from getting to know them well.”
And so I continued my morning with the theme of forgiveness residing in the back of my mind. Wondering where I would find the next opportunity for this higher state, I took a quiet hike along the cathedral floor of redwoods. With the mist dancing along ribbons of sunlight, I thought about the destruction from the blight of logging that happened over a century before.
All of King’s Mountain and the surrounding areas had once been plundered by men with oxen and saws. The groan of mud, trudge, work songs, dynamite, whiskey and whips on work animals sounded deep below the earth that was once vulnerable and exposed.
Two thousand year old redwoods expanding to 75 feet diameter had fallen to their death.
Grizzly bears which were ubiquitous throughout the region had vanished by the year 1874, not to mention the indigenous tribes which communed harmoniously with the land for centuries before the arrival of European settlers.
Yet as I walked, each step fell softly and consciously on the forest floor, I understood another layer of forgiveness. This land was teaching me about the perseverance which powers forgiveness. Perseverance is what this land used to revive itself enough to be forgiving, enough to replenish with new growth.
Those stately keepers of the forest had fallen, but the land forgave because it had no choice. It persevered in the face of betrayal, molestation and destruction. Their anger and pain gave them life-force to multiply, thrive and provide new habitat. Ferns growing over the oxen trails and new growth joining in fairy rings to honor the fallen.
We are fortunate to be able to walk in this meditation of forgiveness throughout Northern California. When we walk amongst new growth, we can let our hearts pour out for the pain the land has endured and yet we can gain wisdom and inspiration for its perseverance which led to the land’s forgiveness, which led to its resilience to continue not only its survival, but its embrace of life-force gifted from the Divine.
May we bring this deep act of forgiveness and all that it powers into our daily lives. May it assist in a shedding of old stories and may it create shift for the highest of good.
Jennifer Brinn is a writer, speaker, intuitive healing guide and regular chick musing about her mishaps and inspirations while living on this planet. She resides in Marin County, CA and has a private healing practice in San Francisco. Read more about Jennifer at jenniferbrinn.wordpress.com.
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Assistant Ed. Rebecca Schwarz
Ed: Brianna Bemel