Another Rebirth

My Dear Friend,

Will you understand? Or will you just see a mountain to conquer?

I have experienced every emotion imaginable within this mountain cathedral. Joy, pain, love, security, insecurity, loss, fear, contentment, wonder.

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Today, as I took a last look for the season at the rooftop of this grand place, I worried how you would feel upon your first visit. Because if you are not open to loving it as I have, then I don’t want share it. I would rather keep it safe for myself.

I have been on both the giving and receiving ends of lessons here. I have seen beauty; I have seen death. And more than I can express, I have seen rebirth.

I have seen the rebirth of forests and landscapes that were taken for granted, mountains and trees who would always be there for us. Slopes green with conifers, rushing waterfalls, and flowers of every color and shape that we photograph endlessly because we have an inkling that they might be special for some reason.

But why are they special? Are they truly for us? Or are we each just part of this picture?

When I wore a ranger’s uniform, people would ask me why all of the trees were dead. Some people, who looked with very limited vision, saw only grey tree trunks and death. And a bug to blame. Not only did they miss the continuation of life, but they didn’t train their vision on the processes, the next generation, and the future. They thought only of the here and now.

Furthermore, did they really stopp to consider the role our species has played in this death and rebirth?

Ther was an audible sigh on the wind today. This cathedral has been trampled by the unseeing masses for months now, and needs its winter rest. It needs the refreshing snows, the cold and dark that trigger so many annual rituals. It also needs understanding, care and a view of the bigger picture on our part.

The trees and rivers need protection, respect, and people to reconnect with the natural processes upon which our lives depend. We can’t just see a mountain and climb it. We must fight for wildness. We must fight to just be allowed to clean up our water sources. We must fight for fresh air and the plants that help us clean up the polution our lifestyles create.

We must fight for these resources. Because with out them, our lives won’t exist. It is not enough to say we care. We must put action in the place of words.

Our National Parks and other public lands are the remaining vestiges of the continent as it was intended to operate. We would do well to heed the lessons they teach.

So when you get out here, don’t spend your time trying to summit a peak. Rather, slow down and sit by a stream and be mezmerized by the endless patterning of the ripples. Watch the squirrels chatter and scamper about in their search for food. Listen to the bees buzz from flower to flower as they play their role. Smell the forest floor after a rain.

Please do yourself a favor. Stop thinking of this as your mid-life crisis and realize this is a chance for rebirth in a sacred place. I hope I am priviledged enough to be a part of it.

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The Mountain Valley Home

Looking out over the same mountain valley I have seen a thousand times before, the sunlight sparkles off the snowflakes in the air, seemingly held aloft by an unseen breeze. The valley stretches ahead of me, dotted with the occasional pine tree or boulder, criss-crossed by a small cold stream. The pines and spruces create a patchwork of deep green against the snow white backdrop on the slopes around me. This valley is protected on all sides by distant mountain spires. Those peaks seem to grow taller the nearer I move.

A grand orchestra resounds all around me. The present concert involves the trilling of birds in the trees and the rustle of the winds as it hurries through dried grasses, all set to the tempo of my footsteps as I walk through the snow on this blustery morning.

I am lucky to be here. And I try to be present in this moment. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I have spent time in many mountain wonderlands across North America, but I always come back here. This mountain valley is home.

Every time I come back, some things are different: the seasons, the color of the grasses and wildflowers, the activity of the wildlife, the wind, temperature and snow.

But some things stay the same: the feeling of peace and calm. The excitement of the challenge (for all trails, no matter how simple they may seem, present a challenge). Same too is the realness of the living world around me–something I certainly don’t get from my computer and office in the city.

I just need to be up in this mountain park where the trees dance to their own music.