At the same time Senator Cory Booker is on stage at the Democratic National Convention delivering a sermon styled speech with an anthem “WE SHALL RISE”.
I once climbed a redwood tree in Big Sur after a fire. It was a holy experience, the living example of what WE SHALL RISE means to me. I wrote about it immediately after, trying to capture the moment:
“The soot makes the climb harder.
She was in the center of the inferno and the first 50 feet of her got cooked alive. The burn is thin- it feels like philo dough and flakes off as I cling, climbing higher and higher.
I couldn’t have gotten here a year ago— couldn’t have gotten near her. The fire had raged for days— burning years of history and memories and wiping out nearly all the life that wasn’t ready.
As I hiked up to her, the similarities between here and home begin to overwhelm me. It feels like we’ve all emerged from our own fires—as a world, as a nation, as a man, the soot still clinging to me, the aftermath still devastating and real.
The fire here was so intense, it even burned out it’s own trace.
The smaller trees aren’t half cooked or half dead; the ground isn’t covered with ash and debris. You don’t see the soot on those other tree’s— they simply don’t exist anymore.
The rage was so intense what once was, simply is or isn’t now. They either fully made it or they didn’t. Plain and simple.
In the redwoods—it’s still and quiet. I have more reverence than before– seeing how the fire cleared way for them— anything holding them back has been removed and now they are free- free to spread and strengthen and renew again. It’s like watching the earths own Resurrection and I wonder if it’s the third day like the bible says.
The fire awakens a redwood forest— years of the world’s muck had been building up around their bases—the air not as clean, the sun not as visible. The ground became crowded and a fight for nutrients was well under way. Then, the fires began and the awakening, the resurrection, commenced.
I climbed for hours. When I get up into her, I look back to see my progress. Her blackened core is as solid, straight and significant as ever. At her base, I see the angels—the ring of new tree’s that emerged, resurrected immediately in the hours after the flames died back— a perfect circle, guardians of the giant—patiently waiting, emerging, preparing for resurrection again and again— it’s this magnificent tree’s divine back up plan.
If the fire took her, she’d resurrect form the circle of seeds, emerging stronger than ever.
I think about how blackened we are—how we’ve emerged from the fire and what we’re left with. I think about my guardians and the circles that surround our nation, this planet, and me.
I realize resurrection is within all of us, nobody gets through without resurrecting a few times.. it all looks different and sounds different and we all experience it differently.. but we all resurrect.
I watch the waterfall.
I stand on her limb and am jealous of her silence and strength and steadiness amidst the complete chaos of the water.
It’s who I want to be—alive because of the chaos, steady, straight and strong because of my deep commitment to it all.”