The family had already passed the fallen tree as they'd walked down the trail; now, on their return, they could see the legs of people who had accepted the tree's invitation, and stepped inside. And as the family came closer, they saw that there were more than a dozen people standing within the tree, clustered together.
What were they doing?
When we ducked out of the tree, wiping our eyes, we found a family regarding us with some curiosity. We greeted them but didn't explain ourselves ... we'd been saying goodbye to a baby we love. He had been born too early, and terribly sick, and we had been looking for a good place in this forest to consign his spirit. His mothers had chosen this old tree for a ceremony of remembrance; it was a place that would nourish the forest and would grow new baby trees.
And so we stepped inside the tree for a brief and sweet and mostly impromptu ceremony, giving baby Felix over to this tree (and the black bear and the salmon, and the maidenhair fern, and the flying squirrel, and...). Ralph sang a song for him, and for us, that ended with the words May your spirit be ancient and enduring.
A giant tree that had lived for centuries and a baby who was too tiny to live more than fifteen days. There are some griefs and sadnesses—and some miracles—that only a forest can hold.