We woke early with our mission in mind. On this misty morning, we found the tide reaching as far back into the ocean as possible. We walked quickly on the smooth, sand-soaked surface to discover this spot of local magic. Here in the tiny town of Neskowin, Oregon (population 134) – just past Proposal Rock – we ventured to Ghost Forest.
Ghost Forest reveals the remnants of an ancient spruce forest. It is presumed that the trees were likely abruptly lowered due to an earthquake and then were covered by mud from landslides or debris from a tsunami. The forest reappeared in the late 1990’s when storms shifted the sands and showed what remained. The tree stumps are over 2,000 years old.
The forest remains because the ocean water rushed in after the earthquake and buried the decapitated tree trunks in mud. The mud in turn protected the trees from decay and preserved the solid stumps. The same waters that knocked the forest down paradoxically preserved it for years.
As I walked though these forest ghosts, my heart was tugged simultaneously into sadness and relief. These solid sentinels stood as a reminder of the roots maintained despite horrific storms.
Like the nature surrounding me, the divorce paradox mirrors that of the ghost forest. A divorce may move in as gradually as the tide or may come with the violent force of a tsunami. Regardless of how it comes, it takes away many of our branches: Our finances, our housing, our retirement, our neighbors, our family, our belonging (both singular and plural). The very elements that disrupt are those that bring us back to life – our roots.
As I peer closer to the tree stumps, I see life. Starfish, crabs, barnacles, and anemone burst all over forming new branches on the weathered trunks. They create new colors and meaning for these sea-soaked and sea-washed bases.
The ocean whips salt water onto my face to join my tears and I smile standing in this beautiful forest. We weathered our storms. We were rediscovered in a new form, with new beauty and meaning, but nonetheless with our roots firmly planted.