Thursday, May 25, 2006


Frederick Buechner, in a radio address shared this powerful experience:

“My wife and, in this case, all three of our children took a trip once to the west coast [USA]. One of the things that my wife especially wanted to see, because she is very much into that kind of natural beauty, was the giant Redwood Forest. As far as I was concerned, I was bored stiff with the idea. Who wants to go see another tree? But off we went, the four of us and some friends into the giant redwoods in Northern California. I want to read you this little entry [from his book Whistling in the Dark]. The entry on the word 'awe':

I remember seeing a forest of giant redwoods for the first time. There were some small children nearby, giggling and chattering and pushing each other around. Nobody had to tell them to quiet down as we entered. They quieted down all by themselves. Everybody did. You couldn't hear a sound of any kind. It was like coming into a vast, empty room.

Two or three hundred feet high the redwoods stood. You had to crane your neck back as far as it would go to see the leaves at the top. They made their own twilight out of the bright California day. There was a stillness and stateliness about them that seemed to become part of you as you stood there stunned by the sight of them. They had been growing in that place for going on two thousand years. With infinite care they were growing even now. You could feel them doing it. They made you realize that all your life you had been mistaken. Oaks and ashes, maples and chestnuts and elm you had seen for as long as you could remember, but never until this moment had you so much as dreamed what a tree really was.”

Buechner went on to say, "'Behold the man,' Pilate said when he led Jesus out where everybody could see Him. He can't have been much to look at after what they’d done to Him by them, but my guess is that, even so, there suddenly fell over that mob a silence as awed as ours in the forest when for the first time in their lives they found themselves looking at a Human Being."

“You have to be quiet to hear. Those great trees almost enforce you to be quiet. Anything you would say in their presence becomes the chatter of a cricket. How hard it is to be quiet, especially verbal people like me, to stop not only the outward talking but also the internal talking.”

Source: Frederick Buechner
"Whistling in the Dark" on 30 Good Minutes, Program #3305, First broadcast October 29, 1989

Image: Awesome Redwoods