My Two Thousand Year Old Friend


     We are in Sequoia National Park, the land of the biggest trees on earth.  I took the short hike to see the General Sherman tree, supposedly the biggest tree anywhere (not the tallest, not the oldest).  As I walked down the fenced path, I noticed that they said that this tree was about 2,200 years old.
     This fact made me think.  All my life I have loved oak trees.  I would look at a thick oak and and say, “This tree was here before my grandfather was born, and will be here after my grandchildren die.”  A living thing, like an oak tree, that was several centuries old was such a thing of wonder. 
     But here I was, getting ready to see a tree that was here before Napolean, here before Francis of Assisi, here before Marcus Aurelius, here before Jesus of Nazareth.
     I hated the walk.  The tourists with their cameras and their complaining seemed an insufferable banality in the midst of this silent solemnity.  General Sherman (what a name!) seemed to endure all the gawking and mindless chatter with a severe benevolence.
     This morning before dawn I got up and walked along a trail by my campsite.  No one was there.  The Sequoias and the Ponderosa Pines and the Lodgepole pines were giants–they seemed three times as tall as the trees I was used to.  They reached up to the sky in long columns, hundreds of feet high.  We greeted the sunrise together.
     Compared to these ancient trees, my life was a mere bubble of consciousness, and lasted as long as a fruit fly’s.  Compared to the huge boulders along the trail, the life of these thousand year old trees were a mere speck, the life of a mere fruit fly.  Compared to the sun, these mountains lasted for a mere moment.  Compared to the universe, our sun was a small segment of time.  Compared to that something or Someone, the universe was a mere speck of time, like the life of a fruit fly.
     Leaders sometimes get caught up in such short-term evaluations.  I hiked back to the camp, put my cowboy coffee pot over the fire, and thought about my two thousand year old friend.


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