Take time to visit the world’s greatest cathedral
Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:13 am
“The easiest practice of reverence I know is simply to sit down somewhere outside, preferably near a body of water, and pay attention for at least twenty minutes. It is not necessary to take on the whole world at first. Just take the three square feet of earth on which you are sitting, paying close attention to everything that lives within that small estate.” – Barbara Brown Taylor, in An Altar in the World
There’s no need to travel to London or Paris to visit the world’s greatest cathedral. And spectacular as it is, the Taj Mahal in India’s Uttar Pradesh state doesn’t qualify as the worship centre to top all worship centres.
That envious designation is the sole domain of the breath-taking cathedral you step into every time you depart your home, office or classroom for the out-of-doors. Despite the efforts of those of us who spend considerable time within the confines of churches, synagogues or mosques, long before there were books considered holy by anyone, nature existed as a beacon summoning us to realities and powers beyond our own.
It often seems necessary to visit beyond our immediate, familiar surroundings in order for nature to arrest our attention. For me, that came in the form of a recent visit to Mexico where the paralyzing intensity of the sun, the brilliant greenery of the foliage and the rhythmic pattern of the surf was pleasantly overwhelming. Virtually all of my physical and spiritual senses were delightfully overloaded with the irresistible appeal of superior powers.
It’s (finally!) the time of the year on our snow-bound terrain that we relish stepping into the cathedral of nature with comparative abandon. Forgotten are the scarves, mittens, boots, parkas and assorted paraphernalia we need no reminder of; welcome is the brilliance of the sun and its accompanying burns. Heck, we’ll even tolerate mosquitoes in order to sit on the back deck and inhale the arrival of spring.
Yet, just as the historic chapels and temples of the world are testament to the creativity of the architects, designers and artists that contributed to their construction, we are remiss if we enter the cathedral of nature without giving at least some thought to the wonderful mind(s) behind it.
Tim is pastor of Faith Community Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org