Sunday, February 26, 2006

More Testimony

After checking out of the Lick it Up room, I grabbed an early breakfast and headed across the bridge to play tourist for a day before the start of my Sunday business conference. For as often as I come up here for business--once or twice a month--I never actually am able to set aside time to take in the Bay Area, which is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

At the top of my list was Muir Woods, a forest of old-growth redwoods that is so special that when the delegates to the first UN conference in San Francisco met here in 1945, they came up to Muir Woods to take a group photograph and to lay a commemorative plaque. The grove they posed in front of hasn't changed in the 60 years that have passed since then. Neither has man's belief that the UN can actually serve the cause of peace. Too bad that never worked out.

I got there ahead of the tourists, but as I was leaving it was clear how special this place was by how many foreign tourists were there. Japanese and Germans were there in force by the busload, plus lots of families and bluehairs. Thanks to the strong action of Teddy Roosevelt and his foresighted allies, our national park system makes the preservation of these precious resources possible for not just us who were there today, but the generations that will follow us, God willing.

This foresight was on my mind as I was walking the trails in the park. It's normally not our way to preserve public spaces, unfortunately. I've spent the better part of the last 20 years in Orange County, and public lands are few. In my home town of Huntington Beach we've even lost the bluffs above Bolsa Chica to developers, an absolutely inexplicable turn of events given the natural beauty of that land and the trails that run through it. If the wetlands of Bolsa Chica of yesteryear were a hand, what's left would be a fingernail--and much of that fingernail is covered by oil pumps.

Anyway, that's not the case for the Muir Woods. The level of care and respect for this resource is evident all throughout the park, from the beautiful and well-built boardwalks that protect the areas around the visitor's center to the caretaker's willingness to allow fallen trees to remain where they lie, even when they partially block a trail. There is an air of hallowedness to this place.

And speaking of the trails, they are among the finest I've ever seen. The level of engineering that went into them is pretty exceptional; treated 6x6's abound, providing protection against erosion and making the going a lot easier.

One of the prominent features of the park is a bisected trunk of a fallen redwood that first sprouted in the year 909 A.D. and fell down in 1930. Mankind was still mired in the Dark Ages. The Enlightenment, dynasties, founding and falling of nations, all transpired while this tree quietly grew. These trees are a testiment to the relative impermanence of our lives and how arrogantly we lay claim to the resources that God put on this planet. Granted, they are here for our thoughtful stewardship, but that should include making sure that what's precious is not destroyed or swallowed up behind someone's fence.

I could go on, but this isn't a travelog. I'm trying to convey what was for me another experience of creation testifying about God and his immuteable qualities. In settings of natural beauty these become more apparent, which is why we as Christians should be in the forefront of the preservation of our environment. It's one of the ways that God communicates to us his power and beauty. In our thoughtless selling out to corporate interests, conservative evangelicalism is actually erecting a barrier to the Gospel. After all, if your sky is full of smog, your water polluted and the only trees around are the ones planted by the city along the sidewalks, how can you hear the precious testimony of creation?


At 6:36 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Welcome to my home!

I live in Tiburon but am getting ready to move across the US to Philadelphia.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Well said, Zeke.

Too bad Bush wants to sell off our publicly owned lands to private investors to fund parts of his budget. :(

There's just been too many instances of this type of thing going on over the past 5 years Bush has been in office for me to believe he's a good Christian steward of America's natural resources.


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