July brought a wonderful, restorative vacation into my life. Vacation was everything I could have hoped for: an enjoyable, memorable time with my adult children and granddaughter, re-connection with a foreign exchange student after 40 years of separation, sailing on San Francisco Bay, and exploring the Olympic National Park in Washington State. Each perfect day was matched by equally perfect weather and good health. Who could ask for more?
In San Francisco, joy swirled around a backyard as four adults and an almost-two-year-old granddaughter built a retaining wall for a terraced backyard at my son’s house. We played singing games, shared Teddy Grahams, baked great desserts, walked in the Muir National Park and sailed on the Bay.
The visit to San Francisco was one bookend of vacation; visiting our other children in Seattle was the second. Together we watched fish ascend a ladder beside the Ballard Locks, ate green tea shaved ice (delicious) beside Puget Sound, bought Dungeness Crab at Pike’s Market, and walked all over town. We watched the sun set over the Olympic Mountains each evening and slept late every morning.
Between these bookends was the beauty of Olympic National Park. Olympic has over 900,000 acres of wilderness forest, alpine meadows, snow-capped mountains and rugged coastline. As I walked in its Hoh Rain Forest, I stepped off the treadmill that had still been running in my mind and became consciously present in the moment. The Hoh was so sacred I could not help but let its calm soak into the center of my being. That calm lingered, as did an accompanying sense of awe and reverence for the created world and the One who continues to bring it into being. Even now, writing at my kitchen table, my pulse and breathing slow and my spirit grows calm as I am transported back to the hush of 300 foot cedars draped in moss and the vibrant colors of tree topped sea stacks over which a bald eagle soars. “Oh God, how majestic is your name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1a).
Now I am home, back to the familiar routines of church work, writing, house projects and dog training.
My life story resides between the new life of a wide-eyed toddler and the ancient lives of trees and mountains that have stood for centuries. So, too, with each of us.
It’s a beautiful life.