My first visit to Muir Woods was 2012. I think that’s where it all started.
I was in San Francisco for work. I am a lawyer. My visit to Muir Woods followed a lengthy and particularly acrimonious deposition in a tragic personal injury case. I had acquitted myself professionally, but I had not realized how much I needed healing from that experience until I found myself alone on a trail in the woods. I went in the afternoon and the sunlight was slanting in through the redwoods in that miraculous way that it does. There were signs asking people to speak quietly on part of the trail called “the Cathedral.”
It was indeed a holy place. The play light among the redwoods resembled some of the artistic depictions of the “First Vision,” the origin myth of my religion of birth, Mormonism. The “First Vision” occurred in what Mormons call “the Sacred Grove,” where Joseph Smith went to pray as a young man and first encountered God. As I walked under the great trees in Muir, I realized that the connection between forests and the holy was made in my mind early in my life.
Pagans often talk about an experience of “connection” in such places. It was not so much connection that I felt that day, as immersion. I felt immersed in a great presence that was the blue and green and brown world around me, suffused with the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, the smell of the redwoods on the cool air, and the feeling my own heart beating hard. I had what I call a “double rainbow experience” (after Paul “Bear” Vasquez’s experience). I was overwhelmed with joy, to the point of tears, and the phrase “praise for living” came into my mind (something I picked up in a UU service sometime, I think). “This is it!” I kept saying, “I have to remember this!”
To be continued …