• shelisloterbeek

Between Every Two Pine Trees...

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

I live for the smell of pine trees. Here in Arizona, the Ponderosa Pines have a particularly lovely aroma. They smell not just like pine, but there is a sweetness to them. As with any pine trees the scent becomes strongest when the sun warms up the branches and the sap can easily flow.

There is actually a large Ponderosa pine in my front yard, so I observe it often. The way the wind passes through it's needles creating a full, tenor tone that the other tree rustles can set upon in a chorus.


So, last weekend for my own literal sanity, I went to sit in the woods in northern Arizona. This country girl needs open space and trees after being cooped up in suburbia. In about two hours I was sitting here just off Rim Road on the Mogollon (Muggy-Yon) Rim.

We took our chairs and walked out what used to be a pretty well-traversed, but now closed trail. I just sat enjoying the trees. Took a nap. And then took a little walk to the end of the trail and just beyond.


As I kept looking ahead I thought the trees looked denser, but as I got to the place where I thought the trees were more dense it seemed the same as where I had been. So I walked further on again. And again, it seemed as though there were about the same amount of trees. I sat down on a stump for a bit just to look around.



As I sat the breeze and the scent of the pines were intoxicating. I watched insects make a sound that seemed other-worldly. First one, then two, then 10 and the sound grew to a volume that the thoughts in my head were being drowned out. Large grasshoppers buzzed and flitted through the air. Their buzzing was the sound of their flying. The sound were short bursts when they were using their wings to propel themselves through the air. I could see them push themselves up and then start to fall back toward the earth, catch themselves and fly again upward. Their sound enveloped me. Their dance mesmerized me.


As I started to adjust to their dance music, I thought perhaps I'd head again, toward the more dense trees. Before I got up, I looked back to where I had come from. And it was then I realized I was already there. I was already in the dense trees where I wanted to end up. And I had been sitting there for awhile already. Longing fulfilled, without even noticing it.


Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life. - John Muir

I think that's how life can be sometimes. If we don't stop to take the time to sit in silence, solitude and stillness and notice where we are, what's going on and where we've been we can miss the longing being fulfilled.


For me, this has been a focused journey the past few years, but the longing started long before then. It probably started when I bought the book "The practice of the presence of God" by Brother Lawrence off the clearance table for a dollar in the college bookstore. I didn't read it for probably a good seven years. But the longing was there.


As I've come along I've been introduced to mystics, people who experience God in a very real way, along the way. For three years I had a poem sit on my refrigerator in my darkest, most difficult time. It wasn't just over a year ago that I realized the poet is a mystic herself, Mary Oliver. I've been practicing sitting in silence. Praying. Not using words. Noticing things I wouldn't have noticed before around me. Noticing my emotions ebbing and flowing through my body. Being aware of things that I wouldn't have even thought would make me feel a certain way and then being able to wonder why, and what's under those emotions. The process helping me grow as a person into who God originally created me to be.

And all that has been part of the journey of leading me into being a spiritual director. I believe that God is in and through all things and I want to help others explore where they see that movement. Explore the movement of the Divine.



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