There is magic at the Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, CA. Redwoods tower above sparkling brooks. Bird song plays amongst the rustle of varied leaves. The sounds of footfall on wooden walkways moving in concert with the peacefulness of growth thousands of years old.
How light moves in the park adds to the magic. It dances at the top of trees, in juxtaposition to the relative darkness at ground level. Bright new green growth glows with light. Brightness sparkles off running water where the sunshine reaches it. In more open spaces, light falls on human faces lit with the wonder of this majestic place.
Surrounded by a complex web of old and new, the human heart has the opportunity to lay down its cares and is open to a refreshed understanding. On my first visit to Muir, this was my experience. The frenzy of a busy week rose up and dissipated as I stepped into the realm of Muir Woods. The unresolved energies of hurriedness rose up in waves as I listened to the sweet music of the water moving over the rocks. In several places on the pathway, I stopped. Closed my eyes and took in the water’s balm.
The sweet sound also brought up lovely childhood memories. Special times my parents would load all five of us kids, plus others typically, into our VW bug. It was packed to the gills with the humans and the picnic. Up the mountain roads my Dad, Walter or Wally, would stick shift us to reach bubbling brooks. The water was normally ice pack run off from the local mountains. It would be so cold we wore tennis shoes. If you are building dams in the local creek and the water is so cold you would not feel a cut, you need to wear shoes.
Standing there in Muir Woods I was taken back to Idyllwild, CA, and the many times we picnicked and built icy water covered dams in its wooded glen. Happy times being kids. Shielded from the cares of the world. At Muir Woods, this same peace, ignited by the sound of the water, came back to me.
Wally has now been gone from us in physical form for more years than seems possible. I miss him everyday but on this day in Marin County his presence was very real. I mentioned to my son how much the sound of the creek water took me back to those childhood memories, how special the time meant to revisit such sweet recollections.
We drove down the hill. Matthew wanted to go to the Marin Country Mart for lunch. I was game. We ended up in the very nice area that is the Country Mart, a mix of high end appeal and rustic country charm, with shops and eateries of a caliber synonymous with the reputation of Marin. We settled on eating in a sit down restaurant, walked around to find the entry, found it and got a table. Outside in the Saturday May warmth.
Soon a new guest took the place of the ones next to us. Her pink hair and ready smile competed only with the sweet looking black Scottish Terrier she had in tow. We delighted in the little guy. His charming eyes invited dialogue.
Giving her a minute to settle, we then asked about the Terrier. Boy or girl? How old? What was his name?
She smiled and said, his name was “Wally.” Short for Walrus. Wally. I was stunned. Dad’s name. Right here next to us. In perfect concert with all the thoughts of Dad that morning. Orchestrated to the one restaurant and the two tables next to each other, at exactly the same moment. Same day, time, location coming together for the Universe to say, “I’m right here. You are loved. I miss you too.”
No matter the activity of my life, I take a breath. I look around. I remember how much I am loved. That I am a direct emanation of love Itself. I give myself permission to be in the presence of Life, welcoming its magic, basking in its joy. Knowing I am loved. I am remembered. I am cherished. In gratitude I keep my heart open to the magic of joy orchestrated for me, around me today and every day.