Walking among the giants
by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.
My husband and I were hiking through a redwood forest in the southwestern tip of Oregon — an incredible experience that I highly recommend. It was a bright sunny summer day, although you couldn’t tell it as we journeyed through a forest so dense it allowed only a trickle of sunlight to peer in.We came to a section of the forest where many of the big trees were hollow. In fact, I took a picture of my husband standing inside one of these trees. This tree was so big in its hollow center that I suspect a dozen or more people could have stood beside him.
We met a local resident who was also enjoying a hike on this beautiful day, and we asked him about the trees. We learned that a forest fire had actually hollowed out the trees. I would never have guessed these huge, healthy trees had ever encountered anything destructive.
This man seemed to know quite a bit about the redwood as he explained the trees had a tough exterior that was almost impenetrable to fire. He said the redwood trees were so tough that even if only a small part remains alive after a fire, the tree still flourishes and grows. In fact, even when a tree dies, it reproduces itself with seedlings that sprout and grow around its remains.
We learned that although the roots of the redwood are not particularly deep, they are intertwined with their fellow redwoods. Since the trees grow in groves, their roots crisscross each other and form a pattern of support that gives them additional life-giving strength and endurance.
Our new friend told us these ancient trees are equally resistant to insects and disease, which also contributes to their long life span. It seems that the giant redwood — or sequoia — is by far the largest living thing on land. And he told us the species had been on earth over 110 million years. Some alive today have lived as long as two millennia. He said this enduring giant that stood among the dinosaurs was among the few to survive mass extinction 65 million years ago.
With such hardiness, why is it that only 10 percent of the tree species remain on earth today? Apparently, the greatest and perhaps the deadliest enemy to the redwood has been man cutting them down.
We were intrigued to learn about these inspiring trees. One can’t be in their immense presence without being humbled and awed. And you can’t help but ask yourself, “Is there something to be learned from a life that is far older than us and one that has endured many obstacles?”
When I told our daughter about them, she said she was reminded of a song we heard several years ago at Epcot’s World Showcase in Walt Disney World. The song is titled, “We go on” — music by Gavin Greenaway, lyrics by Don Dorsey, sung by Kellie Coffey — and it was played during the close of the evening fireworks show at that time. As I became reacquainted with the song’s lyrics, I could see why my story about the redwoods reminded her of this song.
”We go on to the joy and through the tears, we go on to discover new frontiers, moving on with the current of the years,” proclaims the chorus. Certainly when I think of the redwood trees surviving a forest fire, they did continue “to go on” despite what could have been devastating and life-threatening circumstances. These trees seem to have the invincible ability to hold on to the promise of life — a life that only expects progress, growth and to never end.
And the lyrics explain how we go on. We go on by “moving forward.” And how is it we’re capable of moving forward even after experiencing the most traumatic day of our life? The song says we keep “moving on” because we have “a spirit born to run.”
Indeed, God has instilled all of His creation with the energizing and uplifting spirit of life. And as we understand more about our indestructible spiritual life, we will learn that we are just as capable as the redwood tree to overcome even the most challenging ordeal and keep moving forward to each new day. In fact, it is our natural instinct to do so — our divine birthright.
So like the redwood tree, my friends, you and I will go on. We, too, can go through any troubled times and be untouched, unharmed, untarnished, without blemish, spotless, pure, fresh, intact, perfect — as God intended.
Perhaps the redwoods’ interconnected root system gives humanity its best clue for its own survival. Actually, the roots of humanity are already intertwined and established by the same Creator. My hope is that we will someday recognize, accept and believe this fact and live in peace and unity as the brothers and sisters we truly are.