Two moments

I’m at a minister’s retreat, which is being held in a camp and conference center located on a steep ridge forested with second-growth redwoods, California bay laurels (Umbellularia californica), and Canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis). Two moments from today:

As I was walking along an old logging road cut into the steep hillside, with a precipitous drop on my right side and a vertiginously steep slope on my left side, I startled a big brown juvenile bird hawk. It flew quickly and efficiently through the redwood trees, out over the valley to my right, and was gone in less than a minute. I can’t tell you what kind of hawk it was (Accipiter cooperii?), but I saw it for just long enough to give me a new understanding of the topography of the landscape: the hawk was not limited to roads cut into a hillside otherwise too steep for me to walk on; it wove through a band of tall trees into the open air of the valley.

At tonight’s worship service, I could not pay attention to the sermon. I heard enough to know that it was a pretty good sermon, but that’s all; the words were gone before my tired brain had time to recognize them. I sat there watching other people listen to the sermon, and from their reactions — their bodily stillness, their facial expressions, their lack of fidgeting — I got some of the meat of the sermon.

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