These are brutalizing times.
You've been downsized and outsourced
and overworked and underutilized.
You need a vacation -- a real one this time.
Not one of those tour-guided,
Not five days in a brain-buzzing casino.
Not another kid-filled minivan trip
to a theme park.
You did that last year;
you can't face another costumed creature.
It's your turn.
You need a real rest this time --
a soul-deep, reenergizing rest.
I'll tell you where I'd go.
Tofino, British Columbia.
It's a fishing village (population 1,396)
at the far western point
of western Canada's Vancouver Island;
go any farther west
and you're in the Pacific Ocean;
any farther north
and you're in the wilderness of
Pacific Rim National Park.
It's the end of the Earth, almost.
What to do when you get there?
Here are three options;
only the first is mandatory.
Open the window
(it's going to be cool even in midsummer)
or walk out on the porch.
It's morning, and the fog has come in.
Almost every morning the fog comes in,
heaps of it,
great nature-sized pillows of it.
Sit on a porch chair,
close your eyes and lean back.
Take deep, wet breaths.
Listen to the sigh of the foghorn
among the laps of waves.
It feels like a cushion for the soul.
Walk on the beach.
A few miles down the road from Tofino
is Long Beach.
The Pacific is wild and free here,
unlike the quieting bay waters of Tofino.
The surf beats and rolls in on waves of wind.
You can't see much of it
because the fog is back,
but you can hear its pounding heart.
You can see glimpses of its power
in the forest of driftwood
on the upper beach.
Giant trees have been twisted loose
and tossed here.
This is a good place to heal.
Troubled little thoughts can't hold up
in all this wind.
Grievings and small hurts
are reduced in the large embrace of nature.
Walk in the woods.
Not far from the beach
is the world's largest temperate rain forest.
The Canadian park service
has made a portion of it visitor-friendly
with wooden walkways and railings.
It feels as if you are descending,
but actually it's the forest
that is growing taller.
This is what people mean
when they talk about deep woods.
These are so deep
that the sky is gone
when you look above you.
The fog is gone.
All that's left is a sky of leaves.
Some of the old-growth cedars
are as old as the calendar, anno Domini.
Douglas firs, spruce, hemlock.
Some of the trees are as big around
as your cottage and, column after column,
they stretch up beyond seeing --
up to 300 feet.
This is how God builds a cathedral.
Stop a minute.
Go back to Step One.
This is a good place to breathe.
The forested air is rich with dew.
The lungs can taste it.
Listen to the quiet.
The wind can't get here.
Listen. Do you hear that?
The stillness somehow echoes.
"Living artfully, therefore,
might require something
as simple as pausing.
Some people are incapable
of being arrested by things
because they are always on the move.
A common symptom of modern life
is that there is no time for thought,
or even for letting impressions
of a day sink in.
Yet it is only when the world
enters the heart
that it can be made into soul."
-- Thomas Moore, "Care of the Soul"
Fort Worth Star-Telegram