A Walk in the Forest
For a very special Daddy’s girl….
The seven heavens, the earth, and whatever is between them all glorify Him. There is nothing that does not glorify Him and always praise him, but you do not understand their praise and glorification. He is All-forbearing and All-forgiving. (Qur’an 17:44)
“Dad, why do people go to the woods?” Yara asked.
“So they can feel Allah’s sakinah in the silence of the forest.” He replied thoughtfully. He continued to explain to her that we are so busy in our lives that we sometimes forget how to be aware of what is around us and to quiet our minds.
Yara began thinking about this and wondered out loud if they could go to the forest to feel Allah. What does Allah really “feel” like? Is He like a booming thunderstorm rolling in on giant clouds or is He like a gentle breeze after a Spring rain?
Yara asked her father if they could for a walk in a forest because she really wanted to see what it felt like to be in Allah’s presence. Later that day her father took her on a hike high up in the mountains, but it didn’t seem that quiet. She heard birds tweeting, squirrels chattering, frogs croaking, streams noisily tumbling down between big massive boulders, insects buzzing, and the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees. What is silence really? Is it just the absence of sound, or is it sounds that are calming and relaxing? She felt herself becoming a part of the forest — a living organism as part of the chain of life. She suddenly heard the sound of a hawk soaring aloft on invisible winds and imagined herself floating on a stream of current looking down on the active life below. A branch cracked to her left and there she saw the most beautiful deer she had ever seen standing in a forest glade with a ray of sunlight streaming upon her slow moving beauty. Yara’s breath caught in her throat and she couldn’t understand why she felt so moved — as if she were going to cry.
Yara and her father sat down to drink, eat a snack and rest near a stream. She watched the stream moving down the mountain as she munched on her sandwich, and delightedly observed a rainbow trout leap out of the water as if it were giving a show just for her. Her feet were hot so she asked her Dad if she could take off her shoes and wade in the water. They both entered the water with their bare feet feeling the cool, wet sand at the water’s edge and then gingerly Yara dipped her right foot into the cool refreshing water. Oh, how good the water felt on her feet as she walked through the shallow part of the stream. She felt as if she could stay their forever sniffing the pine laden breeze, and watching the wildflowers dancing in the breeze. However, soon they were on their way back on the trail, and suddenly she remembered about the Presence of Allah. She stopped as her father continued walking, and looked all around her whispering, “Where are you Allah? Please help me to understand.”
As she expectantly waited she heard an ayat from the Qur’an settle into her mind and in her heart like the gentle stream they waded in but full of compassion and love, “There is nothing that does not glorify Him and always praise him, but you do not understand their praise and glorification.” Her heart filled up with love for Allah as she saw that everything praises Him from the very littlest flowers that lift up their petals when the sun rises, and even the fish joyfully jumping out of the water. She looked up at the big pine trees and saw that the trees lift their branches up to soak up the sun, just like she was lifting up her heart to soak up Allah’s love for her.
Just then Her Dad appeared — Yara couldn’t immediately speak but simply lifted up her arms just like the trees and flowers with her heart filled with love and thanksgiving for Allah who had just allowed her to feel His Presence. She looked up at her Dad and smiled and told him she had just felt the Presence of Allah. She explained to her father that He is everywhere, in everything, and that sometimes we need to just be really aware.
Her father asked her to describe her experience, so she told him she felt love and compassion and about the verse from the Qur’an. He told her Allah had blessed her with a very, very special gift — that of His Spirit lovingly touching her soul so she could praise Him as all of nature praises Him. Her father then recited an ayat from the Qur’an, “Then God will say, ‘Jesus, son of Mary! Remember my favor to you and to your mother: how I strengthened you with the holy spirit…how I taught you the Scripture and wisdom, the Torah and Gospel, and with My power you fashioned the shape of a bird out of clay, breathed into it, and it became a bird…”
Yara asked her father how a clay bird could become a real bird, and her father responded that sometimes the Qur’an has special meanings hidden in an image — like that of a clay bird turning into a live bird.
“It means, Yara, that when the Prophet Isa (SAW) came, Allah’s spirit dwelt inside his heart and he was able to perform miracles. Allah made us from water and the dust of the earth or clay, and when He breathes His Spirit within us we also become spiritual beings that are able are able to move closer to Allah instead of being bound to the earth with only our physical nature.”
They slowly walked on the trail hand in hand looking, listening, and sensing everything around them. As they arrived back at their starting point a ladybug landed on Yara’s shirt so she gently lifted it with her little finger and marveled at the polka-dotted design on its red back. She slowly lifted her finger, gently blew on the little precious ladybug and watch it fly away back towards the forest.