my memory brings me back to my life at the age of 6 or 7. i grew up on the northwest side of chicago when it still had prairie land. i remember otto peasle’s prairie house and a fallen tree that i used to sit on and talk to god as i looked into the sky. i asked questions on existence…”why was i here?” ”who was god?” and then i would hear my mother’s voice call me home for dinner. and there was this part of myself that did not want to leave the place of the tree. there was this protective space i had found that only i and god knew of.
my memory moves forwards one week before my highschool graduation. my best friend and i thought it would be fun to ditch classes and go to the local forest preserve to drink a couple beers. i had started drinking very early after i found out that my farther was cheating in his marriage with my mother. so drinking had become a pastime. we found ourselves at the preserves and decided to take a swim across the man-made lake. i had done this before but not on a belly full of beer.
i began to swim across and noticed that my friend decided to turn back. ”no problem”, i thought until two thirds of the way my body began to cramp as i had not eaten all day. i lost control over my swim and went under the water. coming back up i began to look at the sky as i had done when i was small and i began to pray. i went under the water three more times and knew that if i were to emerge again that it would be the last.
out of nowhere, and i still do not know how to explain this, i was carried above the water and to the shore where i crawled to the edge of the forest. i stood and walked into the welcoming trees. within moments i found myself sitting on a fallen tree and at once was brought back to otto peasle’s prairie home and my conversations with god. and an energy swept over me that i can only describe as pure love.
and it was on this day that my life changed as i no longer asked the question ”why am i here” or ”who is this god” as i finally discovered those answers. and it was all due to the fact that i had beneath me, all along, the strength and the love that i have found in trees.
Contributed by Kris Larsen