How Are Cathedrals Made?


How Are Cathedrals Made?

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” 

(- from Our National Parks by John Muir (1901) https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/favorite_quotations.aspx)

Do life’s hardships dim its perpetual beauty?  Do dogwoods still bloom? Is faith finite? Do we truly know what we stand for and against? How are cathedrals made? What part do we play?

We humans are daily rocked by staggering losses, revelations, shocks, stupendous and weighty things that may rattle us to our core. On one Earth scale, far-away Sri Lanka is an open wound, in mourning. Aches and wounds rise up for us to face, just as our strength urges us to have trust, to continue, to love, to sow seeds, to hope for harvest and share the bounty. Shocks challenge our very beliefs and assumptions about ourselves, our lives, the purpose of All of Life. Still, every day too, we are inspired with everything that stirs us at our heart: Humanity. Family. Nature. Food. Music. Health. Life. (And did we mention beer and a local butchery?) We are sensory beings. Spring regenerates. Spring compels us to smile and enjoy growth and the urge of life, even as we weather its threats and acknowledge our fragility. As local farmers bring in boxes and bags of colorful, vibrant vegetables, including the promise of multi-colored mushrooms (Lions Mane, Oysters…) as beautiful as any sea creature or Disney-grown image; as cooks create dishes daily with the energy of all that moves them; as the sun shines on us after hard rain—There is abundance: Local milk, meat, bread, beer, tinctures, soap, stories.

Everything and everyone has a history, including Earth Day as a calendar occasion now familiar in our culture.  As with any Big Idea that celebrates the life of all, including our mother planet, this one inspires. We want more of what inspires our passion. Listen as you pass people talking, or to yourself as you interact with friends or family. Excitement builds when we talk about what and who we love. We become vulnerable to the elements of our interactive and dynamic humanity.

Farmers know better than most the hard work and satisfaction from planning to harvest, and their work can remind us. Choosing beautiful mushrooms and microgreens like those from Haw River Mushrooms and East Branch Ginger, from Community Greens and Eco-Organics; spring onions from farmer Willis, just up the road; eggs from Chicken Witch, N the Styx, more—all help us appreciate the labor of sharing this cycle we know called creation. Ours is to honor growth, come what may.

Gretel Ehrlich, a nature visionary, described the great naturalist John Muir from one of his long rambling walks around 1867: “the mood of his journal was almost whimsical, revealing a newfound contentment, as if his passions had begun to order themselves into what could be called a life’s work. He was on a leafy path to salvation; his damaged sight absorbed all that came before it—mountain, fern, vine, brier, pine, sedge, aster, goldenrod, human being, river.” (62)

Nature visionaries are among us: river keepers, paddlers, planters, harvesters. Take Joe Jacobs and his crew of the Haw River Canoe & Kayak Company, for example; all who plant, grow, learn about seeds, cultivate plants as they  nurture and appreciate each stage of growth and flow, as they enjoy the sunrise, sunset, and the boundless sky between. Psychologist Jordan Peterson wrote that if we don’t have others to tell our stories to we go mad. And the evidence is abundant. We each have a story. And in this life-swirl, we are part of this hard harvest. Make no mistake: we do choose to reject or open to the beauty within and around us and to its cultivation. We are responsible for our creation. We are made for meaning and we feel unsettled until we feel our feet on familiar ground. Earth moves, as water and rock; what we perceive as solid we must define for ourselves.

This week Switchpoint came to the Haw River Ballroom. Speakers from around the world convened here in the village to share ideas and hopes, to inspire each other, and to go forward with fresh energy and action plans in their communities. Learn about them. Share your stories. Every day is Earth Day.