And … would the drive required to get there still scare the wits out of me, as it had previously?! During the early 20 th century, most of the two million acres of old growth forest in northern California were cut down. In a relatively short amount of time, the logging industry stripped the land of innumerous, immense trees that were hundreds of years old.
Muir Woods, however, was spared this devastation due to the fact that accessing the area had been deemed too treacherous. Being a true lover of the forest, of course, I had wanted to see this highly esteemed area.
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But getting there, in the mid-eighties, had proven to be a frightening challenge. And the original narrow and winding road ran along extremely steep cliffs where guard rails, at best, were sparse and seemingly ineffective. My driving experience up until that point had been on the relatively flat roads of Florida.
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But I was not to be deterred — either by my fear or the impatient drivers behind me as I made my way very slowly toward the forest. Even my travel companion had to be asked to stop yelling out of fright so that I could more fully focus on our safety. Fortunately, in an inspired moment, we decided to create a large, hand written sign which we cleverly taped to the rear window of the car.
It read:. Please be patient. We are from Florida. While the line of cars behind us remained long, at least the incessant honking had stopped. Plus, the honest and direct message made us both smile! Of course, we did eventually arrive safely, much to our relief and everyone else behind us. I was touched by the grandeur far beyond even my own vivid expectations. The hushed silence in this ethereal sanctuary transcended any experiences I had ever known before. Now, 30 years later, I was returning.
And … would the road required to get there still be as harrowing?
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My hope was that the decades of life that had transpired since my first visit would bring with them maturity in the presence of fear and still allow a childlike sense of awe as I stood amidst the colossal redwoods. I am delighted to say that the road to Muir Woods, while still fraught with obvious danger, did not solicit the same level of fear in me as it had before. Was it because I knew that the destination would be worth the commitment required to get there? Having made this expedition in before, I believe that I was able, this time, to more fully appreciate the rewards that waited just ahead.
I walked in toward the path noting the speckled light that shone down through the tall trees. The radiant beauty was still truly captivating and so immensely good for my soul. I equate this pilgrimage to Muir Woods with the journeys we all make in our lives — both inwardly and outwardly. How often do we feel daunted by what lies ahead or even by what lies within?
Yet, when we risk proceeding through the unknown and perhaps even the precarious, we can often discover amazing wonders. We may feel unsure and need to move with great caution. We may even be discouraged by those who witness and judge our seemingly slow progress. By bravely navigating our own roads to wisdom, we will have access to tranquility, grace and beauty.
The wonders to be discovered may well feel like the mighty trees of Muir Woods. So, enjoy the journeys of this life, my friend, even if, at times, the road seems scary and unfamiliar. For within each of us stands a presence that is tall and strong, resilient and majestic worth discovering. During one of my recent birthday celebrations, I had the delightful opportunity to spend time with dear friends in South Florida. Together, we drove down to the Keys in order to go snorkeling. Prior to this time, I had snorkeled only once in a very small Central Florida spring.
So, I did not yet know the extraordinary experience that was awaiting me in the ocean. For, during those inspired moments below, I was to feel deeply humbled and extremely honored. I share with you here of few of the highlights and insights that I gleaned during this journey below.
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On the day of this great adventure, my friends and I set off in a big boat near the John Pennekamp State Park. The boat, filled with all kinds of seafaring folks, ferried us out to the edge of the coral reef. We were given safety instructions, as well as, snorkeling tips while being outfitted with our gear. Excitement grew within me as I had truly waited for this one moment for a very long time.
And yet, I still had no idea what I was about to witness as I flopped awkwardly yet eagerly overboard. To my great surprise, the coral reef was nothing like I had imagined.
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