Today’s Word from Reverend Dave Bieniek…

During the pandemic, we have gotten used to doing two things, both really well. Those things are going on hikes on the trails on Whidbey, and binge-watching TV shows that we have been wanting to see (and others we had no idea we wanted to see!) There was one such show that combined these two events called Treehouse Masters. And yes, we watched all 11 seasons!

In the show, Pete Nelson and his band of merry workers travel the country, and in fact world, building amazing tree houses for customers. Now the treehouses are amazing no doubt, but what we loved even more was Pete and how terrific he was with his crew and the customers they served. You got the feeling that he really cared for and loved every single person he came in touch with.

Pete had a phrase that he always used when beginning a project. He would yell “To the trees!” It was his acclamation that there was a job to do, but also the joy to be found in that work. He felt he could talk to the trees; he thanked the trees for their service, and he treated them with respect and kindness.

We have always liked hiking, and in the last year or so we have found it to be truly healing. Getting out of the house and walking along a path is healing in itself. Whether it is a strenuous hike up a mountain, a walk in the bright sunshine in Palm Springs, or a nice long hike through our parks on Whidbey Island, we find a connection to God, to nature, and to each other that we just cannot find anywhere else. It is healing to the soul and a connection to all that is sacred. And in the last few months, we have started our hikes with “To the trees!” in honor of all of those who also find the sacredness, but especially Pete Nelson.

Jesus did not have many trees in the area where he lived, but he did make use of the wilderness when he needed to get away. He found a solace and a wisdom in being able to hike and commune with Abba, as he often called God. I believe that was the place where he found sacredness and peace. If he lived on Whidbey, I know we would have run across him in Putney or Trillium Woods.

I know the reality is that not all of us can make it out to hike in the woods. Some of you reading might have mobility issues. Perhaps you live in a concrete jungle where it is hard to find any nature, much less a stand of trees. Maybe you look at your schedule and the shortening sunlight and say, “There’s just no time.” But I would like to encourage you to find some time to go out and just be in nature, in whatever shape that takes for you. Maybe it is your backyard, or a local park, or even a stroll through a nursery. But find some time to connect with the reality that God created all this goodness and offers it to us for healing, and solace, and peace.

And if it helps, as you arrive yell out, “To the trees!”

Rev. Dave