While visiting Cashiers waiting for the leaves to begin their annual color explosion, I found myself wishing I could find Betty’s grieving tree1 or Julian’s rock.2 when my phone rang, Betty was calling unexpectedly, so I asked directions. I wanted to find the places that were so sacred to her, to walk where she walked and longed to hear the Voice and know the Presence she experienced there. It had been fifteen years since she walked up Rock Mountain, but I followed her directions and found the beginning at the end of a crowded residential area. The road was blocked. A barrier constructed. A posted sign and a camera installed. A five star resort was taking over.
Disappointed, I drove back to the house settling for a walk along the paved road. As I walked, I tried to see the leaves, observe the tree bark, and appreciate the breeze on my face. A patch of bright green moss growing lushly at the base of a tree caught my attention. It felt like finely woven carpet as I ran my hand across its surface.
I began to notice the variety of mosses. One I mistook for gray rocks peeking through the grass but with odd tiny coral colored balls sticking out of it on straight little stems. It felt hard but gave slightly when I pressed it. Another looked like green-spiked stars sprinkled through the fallen leaves. Another like dwarfed cedar branches standing between the star moss and the rock moss adding its own variety to the mix. Another was shaggy rather like short thick hair on a dog’s back.
A sage-colored moss spilling over the top of a fence post resembled heavily peeling paint or icing cascading over the edge of a cake. Further along the fence, wispy pale sage-tinted moss grew like hairs on the back of one’s neck alternating with the peeling paint moss, softening it and creating a balanced design of and proportion.
Captivated by the variety of the mosses I was seeing for the first time, the Voice spoke without sound but clearly, explaining the uniqueness of each moss, created to be just what it was, fulfilling its purpose, living out its destiny among the other mosses without competing, comparing, or controlling.3 Just being what they were created to be, what their DNA required that they be. No more. No less. And what they were was enough. More than enough to speak to me of contentment, of simply being, and in the being reflecting the One who created the moss and me. Fully being. And loving the me He made as He made and loved the mosses. The mosses were speaking, telling me of their Creator and mine. I was hearing the heart of the One Betty heard.
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.” Romans 1:20
It wasn’t Betty’s grieving tree or Julian’s rock, but He still speaks, and I can hear. I will go to see Betty soon and tell her the message the mosses spoke. She will remember and love the message and me.
A word from Betty:
“One morning I got up early to walk up the mountain. It was a brilliant sunny day, and I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than the early morning sunlight highlighting a color change. It is so exquisite it makes you cry. I walked and walked and walked and filled up and filled up and filled up, but I just couldn’t get enough of the warm feeling of God’s presence. So when evening came, I went to a place where the sun sets and closed my day with God, looking out over the glorious painting of creation that He had made and makes new every fall. I was experiencing a profound sense of oneness and knew that God was walking with me. I understood, finally, that God’s love encompasses all of creation and all of humanity with oneness. He creates it all, loves it all, and sustains it all. I was waking up to the wonder and beauty of God in a deep, deep interior place. God, for me, was coming out of the box I had put Him in with my opinions, fears, and cultural conditioning and was speaking to me through the magnificence of that spectacular color change…These moments are eternal and they will live in my heart forever.”4