Sometimes I have trouble quieting my mind. When this happens, I have a foolproof plan to restore peace and silence to my mind: I go to the woods and watch the wind in the trees. 


During college I would go to the Ecosystem Preserve to seek out this peace. The winding paths allowed me to escape from other people for a while, to be alone with my thoughts or my music or simply the sight of leaves in a breeze. It used to bother me that you could never get away from the dull, far-off roar of cars on the nearby East Beltline no matter how far into the woods you went. But then one day the thought came to me that perhaps this ever-present background noise was similar to God’s presence—able to be ignored if you tried hard enough, but always there, just within earshot, if you tuned in. Rather than an annoyance, perhaps this reminder of the existence of a world outside my head could be comforting. 


In The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Shug tells Celie, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”


When I was younger, my mom and sisters and I went on vacation to Concord, Massachusetts. Although we visited many historical houses and battlefields, I remember most clearly one oak tree we sat under near Old North Bridge. As my sisters napped on either side of me, did I ponder the significance of the site of the “shot heard ‘round the world?” No, I tried to commit to memory the sight of the leaves above me as they shook in the wind. After a while I decided that the leaves looked like salmon swimming upstream.


Cottonwood trees border the backyard of the duplex where I currently live. The night before my grandpa’s funeral last summer I couldn’t sleep. It was 2 a.m, and it was storming outside. Blinds pulled to the side, I watched the trees thrashing in the wind and rain when the middle section of a cottonwood in the back splintered and crashed to the ground. 

Noticing is not always peaceful. 


I am one of those people that can stare out the window during road trips for hours on end. Music or podcasts are sometimes nice but completely unnecessary, as are daydreams. As my eyes dance over the trees rushing past, thoughts swell at the back of my mind, only rarely coming to the forefront. Whenever I try napping, I can only think of all the trees and landscapes I’d be missing if I were to close my eyes. So I open them again for the next 10, 20, 50 miles. 


The other day as I was driving home, watching the wind in the trees, I was struck with the idea that maybe for every individual thing there is to notice in the world, there exists one person who specifically tends to notice it, and by the act of noticing it, gives praise to God. Perhaps every person has their “thing,” their mundane way to give glory to God: for the color purple, a person; for the sound of leaves skittering across pavement at night, a person; for the feathered edges of old playing cards, a person; for the pitch of people’s voices, a person; for bone-white pieces of driftwood, a person; for the way little kids’ hair sticks up, a person. 

For the wind through trees, a person. 


  1. Matt Medendorp

    The title is lovely, as is the rest

  2. Kyric Koning

    I love the idea of every person praising God through a different mundane occurrence. We really do need to pay attention more. God is standing next to us if we push out all the background noise.

    Always been a fan of the wind, too.


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