This was a moment of Big AWE: I was on a springtime retreat in college, 47 years ago. I was taking a walk alone in the woods behind the retreat center on a fairly cloudy day. I came over a hill when I suddenly had a wide open view of a large valley which was mostly farmland with some bushes and a few trees. The sun broke through the clouds and shone on two golden willow trees. Their bare branches glowed as if lit from within. The trees were alive with luminous light. This scene took my breath away. I was immediately drawn towards them. I hiked down the hill, through a pasture, and spent as much glorious time with them as I could before I needed to return. One branch hung so low I was able to climb up onto it and sit on it, hugging the tree trunk. I was in ecstasy. This was a peak experience in my life, where I felt much closer to God than at any time in church. This changed my relationship with the Divine forever. As I stated, that was 47 years ago. The image of the two trees blazing in Divine glory is still imprinted in my mind. I have only experienced this feeling a few times since, but I am forever grateful for it.
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