Been reading some more from Greta Christina's Blog, and I have to say that this article is - for me, right now - a good one.
Truth is not boring.
This morning, I woke up and drove out to hike up Squaw Peak (now renamed as Piestewa Peak) with my cousin. It was a really fun trip, since I had never hiked the peak before, and a week of doing exercises indoors really had me hankering for a short morning hike. As we walked up, looking at all those who were also driving to this uninhabited parcel of land in the residential lands of Phoenix in order to climb up and down this bit of granite, I joked that in a few hundred years, when archaeologists were examining this site, they would wonder what religious significance such a climb would have held for the people of today. I mean, it obviously gets far more traffic than most houses of worship do on a daily basis, and there is almost nothing at the top other than a view of the surrounding landscape. Perhaps they will think of the people of today as partaking in a piece of nature worship; a daily pilgrimage to a site for nature communion.
This is the reality - amongst all the people who are there to make a trip for reasons of exercise, I ask, "Why on the side of a hill?" One can exercise in the city, at a gym, or by pounding the pavement. Why rise early, drive several miles, fight for limited parking, and then spend a few hours climbing up and down the side of a hill? It is, I believe, precisely because it is a communion with nature. A re-connection, no matter how brief, with something that isn't totally man-made. And that's okay. That's good, even.
It's okay that it isn't the soaring cathedral of El Capitan. It's also okay that it is a forest of great sequoia trees. It's further okay that it's a pathway that is traversed by several hundred people every morning. It is real. It is tangible. It is somehow more true to me than any house of worship.
Sure, I can go to the historic cathedrals in Europe, the temples in India, etc., and marvel at their grace and architectural majesty. (In fact, I do love going to old churches to see the interesting things that people could accomplish without the aid of modern-day technology or mathematics.) However, such things are fundamentally different from the reality of the natural world (or even those things that are "mostly natural").
(Okay, so it's a stretch to link my thoughts about hiking Piestewa Peak with that of Greta Christina's thoughts about the amazingness of reality, but it's in there somewhere, and perhaps I should - in future - eat after hiking and before writing a blog entry.)