Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I don't know what it is.  Maybe it's all the caffeine I've had this morning.  Maybe it's the anxiety I'm feeling about teaching at a conference next week.  Maybe it's the big donut I just stuffed down my gullet.  But I think it's this book by Gary Thomas, that's got me worshipping and free to worship in a way that I'd never really embraced before - the way of the naturalist (ironically, nature just called, I'll be right back.).

I have a vivid memory of a cathedral in Vancouver, BC, from my time there in Seminary, a cathedral that trumped all the cathedrals I'd ever seen in England growing up.  It was grand, austere, pure, rich, mystical and powerful.  It was a place where I could almost audibly here God say "I AM".

The location was in Pacific Spirit Forest, a little preserve on the west side of Vancouver proper (if you ever want to visit), where the woods had had a fire a few months prior, leaving an amazing and awesome view of evergreen after evergreen pillar as far as the eye could see.  Mists and vapors curled around the pillars with seeming intent, and now that I think about it, I believe the intent to be worship.

I've always suspected moments like these as sentimental highs that I should put on the shelf and move on to something more spiritual, like devotions, quiet times, services or songs.  There's something deeply troubling about this suspicion, and something that I seem to have been on a journey of discovering my entire life.

These moments are in fact deep moments of worship.  Moments weighted with God's presence and grandeur.  They are not moments to be swept under anything, or pushed aside as sentimental, for they are, for me in particular, windows into the character and presence of God.

Let me try to explain the inexplicable:  Those woods came at a time when my soul was aching with depression.  My walk through them with Melissa, came at a time when I was questioning everything.  God's existence, my purpose, and even despairing of life.  I felt like a vulerable and hurting child.  And I needed to hear from God.  And in those woods, God answered.

I think that's why I became so attracted to mountain biking in Vancouver.  The Pacific Northwest has something truly unique to offer the naturalist.  Huge redwoods and ferns and all the greens of the rainbow.  Saturate this with moisture, mists and smells of decaying wood, and you have, at least in my mind, paradise.

And in mountain biking through these woods, I felt alive.  My full body and mind were engaged, as the trails were very, VERY technical.  I rarely came home without blood somewhere.  But the blood I drew was worth the experience I had of being alone, and alone with God.  There in those woods, God was healing me.

Now I've had a very hard time letting go of my experiences in those Vancouver woods, as I have gotten older, life has gotten tamer (at least physically), and now I have children to look after, and heck, I live in Orlando.  But I will never forget, and I believe I will one day feast on the tiny bite (even though it felt huge) I tasted of God's feast in those woods.