Forever In the Forest

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He took my hand as we started down the path and I couldn't help but think how strange it felt. Try as I might, I could not think of any other time within the last quarter century that I had walked a wooded trail without a baby within, or strapped to my chest, or holding my hand. Or all three.

And still, it felt really right. If I were asked to pick a moment when I first knew–really knew–that I was in love with this man, it was on a wooded trail. The man was a boy back then. Those woods, those dear, familiar east coast woods, were so very young compared to the woods we were about to walk that day in California. 

How fitting then, that this clear September day found us in the woods again. The grown-up woods. Even the grown-old woods. For nearly half the Septembers of our marriage I have been round with child. But not this September, or the three just past. It's been a process of letting go. I was the mom with the baby for so long and I loved being that mom so much. The letting go has not been quick or easy. I am painfully aware that the seasons of autumn babies are no more. Slowly, I see glimpses of what lies ahead, in these years after babies. More than anything I am struck by how full they can be of that first love, the one that set the rest in motion.

He's still here. My heart still skips a beat every single time I encounter him again after he's been away. It's not that young, green love of the forest by the lake in the town where we were children. It's a big, grown up love, the kind you find in a forest with scarred trunks and soaring treetops. So we set off down the path, just us, beginning a new season of our lives together.

The trees were breathtaking. They are massive, old trees, trees with a history that stretches back a full 2,000 years. My camera was no match for their immense presence. I could not begin to capture the essence of that forest. 

I stood and stared long and hard inside the burned out redwood. Trees created to last forever? Truly made of resilient stuff. The fire burned within, but it didn't kill the tree. Instead, the tree grew anew. I thought of the grave realities we met so early, the really scary stuff, the heated words, the tired anger, the every day hard work of figuring it all out. The fires of us. And there he was. Still. Tall and strong against the sky. New life, new love growing still, reaching heavenward. Always reaching heavenward.

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He delighted in my awe, watching me dance along the shaded path as if I were a character in an Elsa Beskow book. I could tell he was well pleased with himself for insisting we go all that way to see the trees. I told him I could stay there forever. He suggested we send for the children. The children! They would love the giant forest we discovered. We'll bring them back there, I promised myself. And we'll get them out in their own eastern woods more often. 

I left with great reluctance, inhaling deep the scent of that rich forest as if I could keep the big wonder of it inside of me even as we went. Trees. Trees put there by the Creator around the time the Son walked the same earth. Forever trees. It's a mystery, really, how anything can last forever in this disposable world. Some things do, though.

Forever.

A mystery.

And a grace. 

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Comments

  1. Wendy Bussell says

    Oh, to see those trees! I grew up in those trees. I was raised in San Jose, and spent many schoolday field trips in those trees. It is so cool to hear how you love them too! This trip you took was what I got to live. China Town(the biggest in the states!), Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, the beauties that I have missed while living in Texas the last 19 years. So glad to hear that you are readying yourself for the next stage. It is just as daunting and pleasant as the former. We, too, are planning a wedding. Our oldest, Grace will be getting married in the summer of 13. Praise God! I wold love to hear more how you are planning from the grooms side. And how they will blend with the families around them. Blessings to you and yours and I pray you do get to take them all back to those grand redwoods. By the way, did you get to see a banana slug while you were there?

  2. says

    Wow! This, and those, are amazing!
    Thank you for the insight of what the next season looks like. I’m not there yet, and lately have been finding myself overwhelmed as most of my “peers” are out of baby/toddlerhood. It’s hard not to compare, and yet, I really do love having these little ones around. The need for close, real-life friends in the same stage is becoming more evident.

  3. Amy says

    Is it Muir Woods or somewhere else? Muir Woods is my very favorite spot in the world! We live in the Bay Area and try to go a few times a year.

  4. says

    Ah, the redwoods are so beautiful! I was privileged to live among them for about two years right at the beginning of my marriage and with the birth of our first. I have a lot of memories of walking among the redwoods with that first baby strapped to my chest or back!
    I was in the bay area visiting my parents over the weekend and surprised them greatly by suggesting a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a glorious visit – my parents hadn’t been for 15 years and loved it, and my children (who were pretty little when I last went about 6 yrs ago) were amazed. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  5. Mary says

    Thank you, Mrs. Foss, for capturing the love so noble and pure in the holy sacrament of Matrimony. It is THIS kind of love that my heart desires and I pray each day that God should send to me what Mike has been to you. At 26 years old, I’m told “you’re still young”, but oh, I hate to see this time slip by! You show a relationship that only God could put together so perfectly… it gives me hope that it CAN be done. :) GOD’S will be done. May I be as joyfully accepting of His will as you and your husband have been to God’s call to love each other.

  6. says

    So beautiful, Elizabeth – the trees and the words! I couldn’t help but cry a bit at the part about moving into a new season. It will be four years next month that we lost our last little baby, and I have lately been asking God, begging Mother Mary, to help me accept His will even if it means we are all finished. I trust that the baby-less season will have many blessings of it’s own, but the transition sure can be hard!
    Thank you for sharing all about your trip – as always, you touch my heart.

  7. says

    My goodness, this is gorgeous. And so wonderfully true of long-term marriage. Thank you for this lovely tribute/reflection. I lurk here a lot, but loved this one so much, I’m coming out to say so. (we’ll be at year #47 in December)

  8. Jeannine says

    Elizabeth, I gasped out loud at seeing you tucked into the crevice of that gigantic old tree! Thank you, thank you for sharing. Blessings to you and your lifelonglove.

  9. patti says

    That was so beautiful. I am about to celebrate 25 years with my guy! Three children; one out on his own, the second we took across country to start his new life at college and our third still home with us for another two years before she flies away too. My heart hurts as we watch them all leave our nest but we love each other so much and look forward to life just the two of us as we were many years ago…

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