Below is my account of a 6 hour spiritual discipline of silence that I followed from 5pm till 11 pm at the Memorial Park in Houston. I choose that place, because trees move my spirit to a place of wonderment about God. Trees are a place of deep life and consequently deep spirituality. Just like God showed His presence to David by the stars in the sky, for me, God manifests His presence to me by the trees. Perhaps, it shouldn’t surprise me that Treebeard (the guardian of all Trees) is my favorite character in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (of course no surprise either in that Tolkien channeled himself into Treebeard!).
Trees point to deep spiritual truths. They have deep roots, roots that are unseen but their strength comes from their deep roots. Just like the trees, the deep roots of my own Christ-centered spirituality are not seen outside but it is those deep roots that strengthen me. The trees are also a place where many living things find their abode. . Christ is the one in whom I find my adobe and rest in. If I am deeply rooted in Christ, and grow out of Christ, then I will become an extension of Christ’s love that points people to the rest in Christ. The tree is a deeply mysterious being which reflects God’s nurturing and life giving side. So being among big trees in the evening was to be mystic presence of God.
As always being alone and silent, my anxieties came up. I did not want to get stuck in my state of anxiety and so walked around looking, deeply looking, and meditating on the tree. There was this one tree which was so exquisitely beautiful – its dark branches that had fractal precision were like a painting of God across the light sky. Looking at the tree, carefully observing how the branches were shaped by God’s providence and design, I was drawn out of my self-absorption. Below is a picture of that tree.
I was walking among the trees looking at them I found myself moving from a state of self-absorption to a place of self-transcendence. I sat at a bench and looked at the trees. I took more picture of the dark ominous spiritual beings. As I was there, I did not know when it started but I realized that I was actually singing the song, “Spirit of the living God fall afresh on me…” Somehow even before my conscious mind was aware of it, my sub-conscious mind was reveling in the presence of God in that spiritual space.
After a while, as it got darker, I realized that I could see the moon above. I lay on the bench to look up at the moon. Dark clouds came between me and the moon but still the light of the moon couldn’t be dimmed off completely. I could see the moonlight form designs in the beautifully shaped clouds. I was reminded about how brilliant God’s design was. I kept watching the moon and the clouds back and forth, I don’t know for how long.
Then I went back to watching trees and taking pictures of trees which looked interesting… Then after a while as I was sitting on the bench looking at the trees, my body started swaying gently the way it usually does when I am in deep prayer, filled with the Spirit of God. I enjoyed being in God’s presence there. I felt like I did not want to leave that spiritual place, it was like the mountain top transfiguration experience that the disciples did not want to leave.
Of course, I had to come back to the real world. But there was an interesting difference. As I was back in the “real world”, the real world was now different because I was carrying with me the presence of God with me. Because of God’s presence being with me, everything I did where it was going to the gym or reading a book, it was now different – I was living out of a much deeper place in my soul, centered in Christ. The spiritual roots that I had had gone deeper into the soil of my being and was drawing it sweet nourishment from the deep source of God’s presence deep in me and that is what made the world come alive in a new way.