A few years ago, I spent an afternoon in the south grove of Calaveras Big Trees State Park, on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in
Some of the trees there are 3,000 years old. The forest itself is alert and aware. It has tremendous dignity. When we go there, we go as children. And hopefully, we go with reverence, with awe, and with humility. Most of recorded human history has taken place within the lifespan of trees that are alive right now. The rise and fall of great empires, the life and death of great heroes, famous people long-forgotten, all of it came and went while members of this forest quietly stood watch.
Moreover, in the stillness of a late afternoon, as the sun begins to set, it’s not hard to imagine what grew there when the most immense trees were just tiny saplings so many centuries ago: their ancestors, towering Giant Redwoods, some of them thousands of years old at that time.
We get caught up and swept along by everyday matters. We’re busy, sometimes very busy. We have pressing obligations – bills to pay and appointments to keep. We chase goals. If only we could earn some more money, get out from under, make it to the end of the school year. We’re prey to powerful emotions. Anger. Frustration. Envy. Things seem important and on some level, perhaps they are.
But life passes quickly in this way, and not much that we do will last in any event. We will pass away and eventually, so will any memory of us. Our job in the meantime is to lose some of the importance we feel and replace it with awareness.
Have a Moment. Stop chasing, stop being chased, and instead become aware of the life within ourselves and within everything. Notice the glow all around us. If we’re aware, we don’t have to visit the primeval forest to enter the Cathedral. We’re already there.
This morning, the sun is rising and the seagulls are calling to each other. That’s the Cathedral.
The early risers are starting their cars and heading off to work. That’s the Cathedral.
A man is picking through trash, looking for redeemable aluminum cans. That is the Cathedral.