Tuesday, August 18, 2009 Cathedral Grove

This morning after breakfast we traveled two hours north and west to Cathedral Grove Provincial Park on the Port Alberni Highway. Four hours round trip for one hour in the old growth forest seems a bit much, but it was worth every minute. We were welcomed into the Cathedral by a delightful volunteer who talked of the winter storm on New Year’s Day in 1997.
“The storm took down the biggest and oldest tree in this forest, a Douglas Fir,” she said. “The tallest tree still standing here is 76 meters. This one was taller. Walk along it’s length. See that the life cycle has begun again as trees are born from its rotting trunk and limbs. These will be stilt trees, their roots developing in the mother – nurse- tree as it slowly disintegrates leaving the roots above the ground.” We thanked her for the information and the map and started our journey.
Beckoning sunlight filtered through the trees, and danced ahead of us as we ambled down the pathway. We snapped pictures knowing our little camera couldn’t begin to capture the majesty of the scene. We walked along the trunk of the biggest tree and read “This tree is 800 years old. It had been growing here for 300 years when Christopher Columbus discovered America.
We stopped and climbed onto the trunk. At its widest we were more than seven feet above the ground. We leaned against the tree growing behind it and spread our arms. The picture shows that even Tom’s arms couldn’t cover one side of its trunk.
We continued walking, our necks craned to see the tops of the enormous tree. A peaceful coolness settled over us. This is truly holy ground, I thought. Just as we step out of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or the biggest of our Canadian churches, we stepped out of this natural cathedral. I took a deep breath, “Thank you God,” I whispered. ‘Thank you. My cup is full and overflowing with your abundant life and beauty. We are truly blessed to be on this wonderful journey.

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