I drive past the ferry exit and through housing developments; countless houses filled with people who, like me, love this place of wind and water. As I pass, I imagine what the inside of some of those houses might look like. Cutesy decorations, beachy themes, dark cozy lofts, and bright airy rooms flit through my mind as quickly as the houses fly past.
The houses thin and then disappear as I drive through the gate, past the parking lot and into the woods on a small, one-lane black top road. The dark, cool forest embraces me and welcomes me back.
Off to the right a large pine tree leans out over the calm waters of Puget Sound. The bark is worn where countless people have climbed out on it's trunk and branches. A little further on the road wanders across the edge of a small outcropping of rock covered only in the graceful ripples of grass. A park bench beckons from the center of the small grassy hill, but I continue on.
The small road turns back into the woods and begins to meander back and forth as it climbs steeply upward. The pines and brambles beckon to me; they whisper of beauties yet unseen hidden within their depths but a stronger yearning calls me onward.
Anticipation makes the road seem long, and every turn and crest of hill increases the longing within me. Like a painting, the scene plays through my mind once again. My impatient foot presses the pedal a harder as my hands grip the wheel. Then I glimpse the blue of the sky through the trees ahead and the car comes to the stop in the warm sunshine of a soft spring day.
Staring straight ahead, my eyes rest upon a gnarled old tree. Most of it's branches are barren and it looks to be dead, except for one small branch to which coarse green needles still cling. It's bark has been polished to a silvery sheen by the rough ocean winds. Like a lone sentry the tree sits upon this bluff overlooking the sea.
As I study the wind-sculpted branches, my body relaxes and the thoughts flying through my mind begin to slow and become clear once more. I open the car door and step out into the wind. The fresh salt air mixes with the scent of pine and brambles from the forest behind me.
Below the land slopes sharply down to the sea. Here it is barren and harsh, but even so I still feel the stillness of the wood behind me as a soft blanket. My fingers trace the contours of the old tree and I quiet myself before the Lord; for it is He who I have come to see, and He alone who speaks to my soul.
Here, in this place of solitude my spirit is refreshed and it is this place to which my memory takes me time and time again.