I stand at the base of the Founder’s Tree, in awe, all 5 feet 8 inches of me.

I’ve just returned from a visit to “the Redwoods” and call them by name as if I’m referring to life-long friends or my beloved family, and I suppose I am. My hands touch their ancient bark and I wonder: What human errors have these gentle giants seen?

Some redwoods suffer tremendous stress, burnt by wildfires, and it’s these bruised and damaged ones that intrigue me most. We found one large enough to live in, and the most amazing fact is that even with its charred and hollowed-out core, what remains is resilient, vibrant, and very much alive.

Today I feel burnt out and damaged by election fatigue. I struggle with the political and religious banter hurled at me from some of my friends and family, and particularly the media.

I’m surprised that some of us behave as if the world will come to an end if one candidate, or the other, becomes our next president. And the truth remains that one or the other will become our next president. Like it or not….we are there, with November 8th just days away.

NOTE: If you’re still undecided about where to cast your vote, I encourage you to treat your indecision like a research assignment (a paper you might write for an advanced class in college). Do your homework! Go to as many different sources as possible to uncover as much reliable and unbiased information as you can. (This will be the hardest part, finding unbiased reporting.) Read it. Study it. And make your decision based upon what you believe is the best pathway for all people, not just those who believe the same as you do, but for ALL Americans (that’s tough, too, empathizing with people unlike yourself).

And that’s where we’ll find the core of America, inside the burnt out and bruised parts of our nation. Our under-served, our children, our minorities, our immigrants, our small business owners, our single-mothers, our fathers who work two or three jobs so their children can attend college and live a better life than they’ve lived. Our firefighters, peace officers, and teachers.

This is our nation, love it. But don’t leave it. Don’t leave your vote un-cast, hoping that your silence sends a message. You will not be heard.

I care deeply about the future of our great country, but I also know that any presidential tenure is just a flicker in time compared to the longevity of our American Dreams. I saw this displayed by the resiliency and grace of these ancient redwoods. Let us learn from them — we can all reach the light. We can all thrive, even those of us who are bruised and battered, even those of us who fight hardest to survive.

“One of my most unforgettable memories of the past years is walking through the Redwoods last November — seeing the lovely shafts of light filtering through the trees so far above, feeling the majesty and silence of that forest, and watching a salmon rise in one of those swift streams — all our problems seemed to fall into perspective and I think everyone of us walked out more serene and happier.”

Lady Bird Johnson, July 30, 1969.

From the dedication plaque at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove of Tall Trees