I was pastor of a lovely New England church at the time. As a
pastor in the New England Conference of The Methodist Church, I was
set for life! One Sunday morning I was preaching to the
congregation when I suddenly heard myself say to myself, "Jack, you don't
believe what you just said!" I knew instantly that it was time
to quit. The following Sunday I resigned and said a very sad,
"Goodbye." It wasn't easy! It meant that instantly I had no job,
no income, no house to live in.
after layer after layer of the dust all settled, I found myself
teaching English in a tiny little high school of 44 students on the
eastern edge of the Gabbs Desert in Nevada. I had a lot of time
to think. With the vast
Gabbs Desert to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east I began
to feel like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must have felt when they
worshipped El Shaddai, the god of the mountains. I began to find
myself lifting myself up to the mountain peaks.
faith in any kind of super being was gone, I still had this
strange yearning to reach out to something -
I was there in Nevada, the mountains were enough. On weekends I
would get up early in the morning and try to fly high enough to get
into the sunlight. The mountain rose so steeply on the west side of
the old airstrip there, that you could take off in the shadow of the
mountain and climb up into the sunlight. The sensation was one
of total, pure AWE.
Over the half
century since then, my worship expanded from mountains
to clouds, to the moon, and eventually to trees.
These are the things that our primitive ancestors worshipped!!
I liked that!!
--No Faith Required--
Over the years it was trees that
satisfied most. [I know it's
getting late to make a long story short- sorry.]
I slowly and gradually became what I would call a dendrolatrist,
one who worships trees. [Since the word doesn't yet exist, I appoint
myself as Pope, Lord of the Trees.]
sold my motorcycle out from under me, I always ended my daily
ride at the Scotland Run Arboretum. There was one tree there
that never failed to create the sense of awe that I craved. It
was a towering Spanish Oak. Tom knew how much that tree meant to
me, so for my 79th birthday Tom went out there before sunrise and
again at sunset to take pictures of the tree from every angle.
I loved the
pictures so much that I turned them into a Ken Burns type slideshow.
My favorite piece of music is the movingly worshipful Adagio by
Thomaso Albinoni. It was no surprise to me that the pictures
and the music were meant for each
other. The next time you're alone
and feel the urge to worship- to go to another place and time- click
the link below. It takes only ten minutes.
Scotland Run 00
For those of you who would like the meditation to last a little longer
and the pictures to move a little slower, I made a version that
adds a short concerto by Albinoni and runs about fifteen minutes.
Scotland Run 01
[If you would like to
enjoy these pictures in their full resolution and color depth rather
than the greatly diminished YouTube versions, I can EMail them