This summer, I finally made time to hike the coastal Redwoods. For me, it was a bucket list item. They were majestic and awe-inspiring, completely exceeding my expectations. And while the lesson “stand with other Redwoods” was certainly reinforced, as I walked and listened, the Redwoods taught or reminded me of several other lessons.
I saw a number of trees whose bark and trunk was partially burned away, some even burned through so I could see through the trunk and even stand within the trunk. And yet, they were still growing. When I am hurt or “get burned,” I can easily turn inward and shut down. Yet these trees were challenging me to keep growing, keep reaching upwards. The one I’m standing under in this picture is more than 200 feet tall and still growing. I want to do the same.
While hiking, I also observed animals living up in the canopy of the trees. I learned that an unknown number of different species of plants, insects, birds and even small animals live in the canopy of Redwoods, some spending their entire life without touching the ground. The Redwoods support life and enable it to flourish. I felt challenged by the question, how can I support the lives around me and help them flourish.
In every wood that I hiked, I encountered large trees that had fallen. I realized that while the Redwoods can live as long as 2,000+ years, eventually they each will fall. I observed that the fallen trees had many different plants growing on and out of them, and different animals living within them. I learned that a large tree can take 400 years to decompose, feeding life in the grove that whole time. I was challenged to think about the legacy I am leaving. Will the way I live my life sustain others for 400 years?
I also observed that in several places where large trees had fallen, it created a break in the shade of the canopy and that new growth flourished in the sunlight that now made it to the ground. I learned that while the Redwoods sustain life in their canopy, the shade they produce can stunt life on the forest floor. I was challenged to wonder, how am I stunting the growth of those around me, by taking all the sunlight for myself? Another lesson on enabling and helping others to grow and flourish.
Finally, I observed countless trees 200’ tall, a number that were 300’ tall, and a couple over 350’. The heights almost beyond belief. And yet I learned that the costal Redwood tree seed is the size of grain of rice, but that the tree grows its whole life. And so, I was reminded, that it is okay to start small and that growth is a lifelong pursuit.
Keep growing when wounded, support life around you, leave a legacy, don’t stunt those around you, and growth is lifelong. Quite a number of lessons from a bunch of trees … or perhaps the lessons were from their Creator.
Having spent a couple of days in the bustle and noise of Seattle before getting to the Redwoods, I didn’t realize until I was in the woods how thirsty I was for the quiet and the peace. Evidently, I needed that quiet to hear from God. Another subtle reminder. When I was school age, I used to think of vacation as a break from learning. Now it seems, it is a break for learning. Thank God, for meeting me in Northern California for my summer school.
By Bob Locascio
Bob started as The Crucible Project’s Manager of Programs & Services in the spring of 2016, going full-time in 2017. He is responsible for overseeing all the programs and services that The Crucible Project offers, including weekends, groups and coaching, as well as developing new programs to further advance the mission.
Prior to joining Crucible, Bob spent 30 years in various leadership roles in the wireless telecoms marketplace. He has also run a healing-growth life coaching practice since July of 2009. Bob did his initial Crucible weekend in Aug 2004, and was part of the first cohort through our Two-Year Program.
He is a Retreat Leader, having staffed more than 100 weekends; a Group Leader, currently leading two groups; and a coach. Bob is married to Christine Colón, a professor at Wheaton College, and has an adult daughter.
Photos provided by Bob Locascio.