If you’ve ever visited an old-growth forest where some of the trees are anywhere from 150 to 500 years old or even older, and you took time to tap into the energy and spirit of the forest, you probably haven’t forgotten that experience. These are nature’s cathedrals. Being there is to be on holy ground. And if you have ever been in the oldest redwood or sequoia forests where there may even be a tree that is more than a thousand years old standing 400 feet tall, you know the awe-inspiring majesty of these ancient living giants.
I’ve had two experiences in old growth forests in my adult life. The first was when I was in my early twenties and was in the Umbrian region of Italy a couple of hours north of Rome. I was singing at the Spoleto Festival, but on a day off I visited a monastery on the next mountain across the aqueduct from Spoleto. As I walked in the forest there, I felt as though the ancient wisdom of the earth was speaking directly to me. I don’t know how else to describe it. Just a couple of years ago, I visited Muir Woods in Marin County, California, where some very old redwoods stand. It was again a sacred experience. I am eager to visit more old growth forests, especially the giant redwoods and sequoias of the northwestern U.S., to experience that energy once more.
Here at the Center for Transformational Presence, we talk often about the concept of “cathedral building” – working on a project that you may not see completed in your lifetime. Many of the great cathedrals of Europe and the ancient sacred sites of spiritual traditions around the world took more than a hundred years to build. The artisans and craftsmen who worked on those projects never expected to see the completed church or temple. They were just doing their part for something that was, in fact, much bigger than their lifetime. They were building something that would serve many generations to come yet they themselves might never see.
The other day while out shopping for a dinner party, I heard a story on National Public Radio about an organization whose mission is to recreate nature’s great cathedrals as a part of bringing our planet back to health. I actually had to pull the car over to write down the name because I was so excited and amazed by what they are doing. Led by tree expert David Milarch, the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive has discovered a way to “collect, propagate and archive the genetics of ancient champion trees from around the globe.” They made history on December 4th by replanting an old growth forest on the southern Oregon coast of the U.S. with exact genetic duplicates of some of the largest champion redwood and sequoia trees in the world. This is the first time such an effort has been undertaken.
According to their website, many scientists and tree experts initially said that this couldn’t be done. But now David Milarch’s team has successfully cloned some of the world’s oldest trees. Their interests lie far beyond just preserving these ancient tree species. Their bigger focus is on the profound impact that forest restoration can have on the planet for generations to come. In earth scientist Dr. Rama Nemani’s words, “It’s amazing for one layman to come up with the idea of saving champion trees as a meaningful way to address the issues of biodiversity and climate change. This could be a grass roots solution to a global problem. A few million people selecting and planting the right trees for the right places could really make a difference.”
At the Center for Transformational Presence, our over-arching mission is to create a world that works. We do this through coaching, workshops, and trainings by fostering new approaches to life and leadership, by teaching intuitive thinking, and by offering skills and tools to cut to the essence of what is going on, identify emerging potential, and follow that potential to a new future.
In this spirit, we celebrate visionaries like David Milarch and the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive for focusing on untapped potential and creating new realities. And just as we here at the Center tap into the wisdom from ancient teachings to understand how life works and to create a brighter future, David Milarch is tapping into ancient DNA for guidance and wisdom on how to live long and strong in the face of often difficult conditions. Those ancient giants have withstood countless tests of time. They have stored carbon dioxide and provided life-giving oxygen to the planet for hundreds of years. The ancient trees and the ancient teachings hold a timeless wisdom that can help us find our way toward a healthy and thriving world.
You can visit the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive to watch short videos about their work and the importance of trees to our environment. The videos are all less than 5 minutes long.
It’s the season of giving. Consider the legacy you are creating for future generations by how you think, the values you hold dear, the attitudes and perspectives you hold, and where you put your focus in day-to-day living. What is it that you are giving to the future by how you live?
If making year-end contributions is something you do, consider supporting a project or movement that you really believe in whose vision goes beyond your lifetime. The Native American traditions invite us to “consider the seventh generation.” Consider an investment in a greater tomorrow for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Cathedral building. Being a part of something larger than you. Giving energy and support to something that may not come to fruition during your lifetime. May cathedral building never end.
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