This past February, I had the wonderful pleasure of traveling to the San Francisco area to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday. I have seven siblings and all of us (including my mother) traveled from several different locations in the United States to celebrate.

One highlight during the week was a visit the beautiful and lush Muir Woods National Monument.   Located twelve miles north of San Francisco, this primeval forest consists of old-growth coastal redwoods. According to Wikipedia, “The tallest tree in the Muir Woods is 258 feet… Most of the redwoods in the monument are between 500 and 800 years old. The oldest is at least 1,200 years old!” Empasis added. 🙂

Walking among these majestic towering giants was a magical experience. The constant drizzle and fog added to the enchantment. And everywhere I looked – up, down, and around, I was captivated by the scene – moss covered branches, fallen logs, and brambles, glistening wet fern and clover on the forest floor, twisted roots that looked like serpents, and the rushing water of the Redwood Creek.

I was astounded and delighted that such a place exists, full of patterns, textures, and wonders that were discovered around every bend. I had entered a world of things sublime and divine where I heard God speak through his Beauty.

Though the words of Longfellow describe “stately pines”, this poem expresses my experience at Muir Woods so beautifully.

My Cathedral
Like two cathedral towers these stately pines
Uplift their fretted summits tipped with cones;
The arch beneath them is not built with stones,
Not Art but Nature traced these lovely lines,
And carved this graceful arabesque of vines;
No organ but the wind here sighs and moans,
No sepulchre conceals a martyr’s bones.
No marble bishop on his tomb reclines.
Enter! the pavement, carpeted with leaves,
Gives back a softened echo to thy tread!
Listen! the choir is singing; all the birds,
In leafy galleries beneath the eaves,
Are singing! listen, ere the sound be fled,
And learn there may be worship with out words.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow