Springtime warms the Yosemite Valley from the icy temperatures of winter, beckoning animals large and small. Granite peaks soar thousands of feet into the clear blue skies, and the ground around them is suddenly bursting with wild flowers in reds and yellows and purples.
The melting snows at the highest peaks begin a slow trickle of pristine chilled water downward to join other droplets and together flow in to waterfalls dropping cascading torrents of white water on to the rocks below with a roar that echoes through the Valley.
On the Valley floor, standing alone in a lush meadow of two inch high green grass is a majestic seven story tall oak tree. Its trunk is 20 feet around and its thick canopy shields the mid-day sun, as its softly fluttering green leaves shade the universe around it.
Feeding on one of its acorns is a tiny brown chipmunk, his chubby little cheeks merrily munching the teeny morsels and a glow in his eyes that whispers, “Life is good.”
Next to this giant tree are two fallen branches, whose high points each rise two feet and are wide and comfortable enough to beckon passersby to have a seat and enjoy the magnificent view.
How old is this tree? Considering that each year places a very thin ring of bark, at 20 feet around it is many centuries old. Acorns were a staple of the native peoples’ diets and it is easy to imagine that for generations, this tree offered them a living storehouse of nourishing food.
What makes it special to us today? It helps us to relax and find peace within ourselves, as it stills the mind and awakens something deep inside of us. Whether it’s a yearning to be in a Garden of Eden, or simply to enjoy nature’s gentle touch, it kindles the spirit.
As one sits quietly, muscle tension eases, and stress and worries seem to float away in the clean fresh air scented by the pine trees and the giant sequoias off in the distance. The world becomes timeless and the mind rests on a pillow of serenity.
Whatever one’s purposes in life, they can be found here in the deep reflective pools of one’s inner being, if one has the desire to look.
And when the mind eventually says it’s time to go, one turns a complete circle, absorbing nature’s splendor in every direction and from each breath of pure clean air. Rejuvenated, one is now ready to calmly face society’s challenges once again, perhaps with greater insight.
But one cannot leave without saying goodbye to this regal towering oak tree, which for centuries has welcomed visitors of all shapes and sizes. And as I placed my palms on its massive trunk, to its side was this same tiny chipmunk, his tummy full, tucking away another acorn for later.