Finding God in the Forest

Maureen Wise reflects on how she feels closest to God when walking through a forest, from California Redwoods to Ohio Oaks.


Ah, I worship at the same temple.

Hope you don’t mind this but I shared elsewhere a couple years ago. @Bucky_Wood you might be interested.

From The Overstory by Richard Powers:

Say the planet is born at midnight and it runs for one day.

First there is nothing. Two hours are lost to lava and meteors. Life doesn’t show up until three or four a.m. Even then, it’s just the barest self-copying bits and pieces. From dawn to late morning -a million million years of branching- nothing more exists than lean and simple cells.

Then there is everything. Something wild happens, not long after noon. One kind of simple cell enslaves a couple of others. Nuclei get membranes. Cells evolve organelles. What was once a solo campsite grows into a town.

The day is two-thirds done when animals and plants part ways. And still life is only single cells. Dusk falls before compound life takes hold. Every large living thing is a latecomer, showing up after dark. Nine p.m. brings jellyfish and worms. Later that hour comes the breakout -backbones, cartilage, an explosion of body forms. From one instant to the next, countless new stems and twigs in the spreading crown burst open and run.

Plants make it up on land just before ten. Then insects, who instantly take to the air. Moments later tetrapods crawl up from the tidal muck, carrying around on their skin and in their guts whole worlds of earlier creatures. By eleven, dinosaurs have shot their bolt, leaving the mammals and birds in charge for an hour.

Somewhere in that last sixty minutes, high up in the phylogenetic canopy, life grows aware. Creatures start to speculate. Animals start teaching their children about the past and the future. Animals learn to hold rituals.

Anatomically modern man shows up four seconds before midnight. The first cave paintings appear three seconds later. And in a thousandth of a click of the second hand, life solves the mystery of DNA and starts to map the tree of life itself.

By midnight, most of the globe is converted to row crops for the care and feeding of one species. And that’s when the tree of life becomes something else again. That’s when the giant trunk starts to teeter.

Just wondering if you read this book, @Kendel If you like this quote there are more in this thread as well as a link to a NYT article about the book by Kingsolver.


A much better metaphor than mine was. Thanks for sharing, Mark. Was there a context or a topic that prompted you to put that together? Was it the God in the Forest post? I used a football field thinking distance was a good visual for elapsed time. But a 24 hour clock does it better.

It was an excerpt from that Richard Powers book which I read a couple years ago. But it was probably that post of yours that made me think of you. I started a thread here starting with a NYT article about it which caught my imagination. The book was probably more interesting for the accessible science than for the zany human narratives.

This quote comes from the last chapter I think.

Mark, thank you. This is stunning.

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It’s wonderful to hear my feelings expressed so well and to be understood by someone who has similar experiences. I really need to put together a little hymnal to take with me on hikes.
This is (I think) Little Pup Falls in the Marquette, Michigan area. The Doxology was very appropriate that afternoon.


In my winter memory, I tap the firm river ice with my ski poles to ensure it is sturdy enough before moving my skis forward. Daisy, a white medium-sized dog, follows me across the river. I’m conversing with God while observing the scenery after crossing the river and sitting alongside the river, feeling the coolness of the snow.


I saw a comparison using the Great Pyramid; written history is just a grain of sand on the peak.

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