Monday, August 3, 2009

The Cathedral















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 California. The south grove is home to over a thousand Giant Redwood trees. With no tourist amenities other than a dirt parking lot, the south grove is also harder to reach than the more popular north grove. The day we visited, no one else was around.


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.

38 comments:

Ronda Laveen said...

Very well put. Divinity is always with us.

Michelle said...

I heard the seagulls this morning as well Patrick.

It seems like a year ago all I heard was the alarm telling me I had to go to work.

Erica said...

so peaceful. Its one of those moments when you know there must be a greater purpose :)

Brian said...

It took me years to realize that there was no geographical cure. It was all inside of me. Thanks for the great post man.

Debra Kay said...

We carry what we need with us, if only we knew where to look.

Melissa said...

So much to think about in this post Patrick.

I know that what saved me when I had cancer was the ability to sit with myself and heal, not give over to anxiety and despair.

Thanks for this.

Renee said...

Yes, holy ground Michelle.

Renee xoxo

Liam said...

I haven't been yet. I have always wanted to go.

Nadine said...

For me my faith carries me to move forward. When my husband was going through cancer, it helped us during the bad days.

Thank you for stopping by my blog today.

BellePapillon said...

What are you talking about?!

Sophia said...

"Have a Moment." It's all right there.

willow said...

Beautiful post.

Thanks for your visit to Willow Manor. :^)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Well writ indeed. I well imagine that forest is dignified in its old age--I like that description. I find that trees keep me humble and nature gives me perspective on how insignificant I am. This is a good thing, by the way!

jennifer said...

This was beautiful. We live near coastal Alabama. I love to go to the beach in the winter when the crowds are gone. It is a completely peaceful time for me and often, if my life is stressful, I can find my cure there.

Sue said...

My cathredal is my dog, it is the air, it is the sun. It is even the people in my life that have made me cry.

it is everywhere.

Sophia said...

That's beautiful, Sue.

Yaya said...

What an amazing post!

Carol said...

Beautiful! That place sounds so wonderful!

4 Lettre Words said...

So thought-provoking!

Love that photo. I really want to see such trees.

kj said...

ah, patrick is a writer.....

michelle, thank you for visiting my blog. are you moving to blogland lane? if you are i will be there to welcome you along with some terrific new neighbors.

:)

UBERMOUTH said...

We cut down trees older than that for firewood over here. :)

jenn said...

thanks for stopping by my blog :o)

i look forward to reading yours...

hope you stop back by often!!

Foursons said...

Great post! Made me stop and take notice of my actions. Thanks for visiting me. I love visitors who comment too!

runzwithknives said...

Loved this post. Yes, life itself is The Cathedral if we just allow it to be.

Ryan Ashley Scott said...

Beautifully written, and well-put. There's a tree in South Carolina called "Angel Oak." It's several hundred years old and some of the limbs are as big as cars. It's such a peaceful place.

Diane Meier said...

Oh, I've always wanted to be in the presence of those magnificent standing tree spirits. What stories they could tell us, if you would take time and listen.

Dedene said...

Patrick, a very thoughtful post.

Michelle, thanks for dropping by my blog, too!

Queenie Jeannie said...

Beautiful!

Mark said...

Beautiful and eloquent post! Yes, we are the cathedral, we are the divine, not matter who or where we are.

Miruh said...

So beautifully written; indeed it is in the day to day existence where true worship takes place or not.

Jocelyn said...

I remember visting the redwoods as a kid; the impact of that enormous quiet hasn't left me yet.

burpandslurp said...

I loved this post. this is what my dad tells me all the time. To enjoy the Kingdom NOW, wherever, whenever.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Beautiful. I long for these days, as they seem to restore and set things back in balance, if only for a bit.

Kerrie said...

A lovely post. I must admit I struggle with anything spiritual. I guess I am just not made that way, but your post did make me take time to think about how petty many of the days problems are in the big scheme of things.

Kerrie said...

A lovely post. I must admit I struggle with anything spiritual. I guess I am just not made that way, but your post did make me take time to think about how petty many of the days problems are in the big scheme of things.

Mama Zen said...

Reading something like this. That is the Cathedral, too.

Shubhajit said...

Very lucid post.

I believe we human are not innately made for job but we do because of survival mode and later on individuality mode. It is just the livelihood and we try to seek everything from that. Pleasure, solace, happiness,and so on. However, life is completely a different phenomenon and we can't separate it from our livelihood. Life and livelihood and all confusion is created. Even our loved acquaintances depends indirectly or directly on livelihood because we think this is actually the life. That's why love has so many definitions.

It is the segregation of life from livelihood makes all different. Seek the kernel, seek the truth without pleasure, pain, suffering, happiness etc and then we can find something which is beyond our usual perspective.

Kathy B! said...

Your writing is so beautiful. I loved this post. There is something about the history and majesty of trees that is literally inspiring.