Finding oneself, [and I use that phrase quite literally], among the ancient bristlecone pine grove of Wheeler Peak at Great Basin National Park in Nevada, is a rare gifted moment. These seemingly living-dying-dead living trees are the oldest trees on earth and among the oldest living organisms, just under 5000 years old. One cannot help but feel herself – find herself – among her ancient ancestors that reach and twist and bend and dance upon and at the foot of a glacier moraine palace of quartzite boulders.

Courtesy of LAUREN STERN

The approach to the grove is a 1.5 mile hike through trees and dirt path, rocks that beckon the occasional missed step. When one catches first site of one of these ancient ancestors one is quieted, one is awed, one sees oneself looking back. In this quiet space of shadow and light one hears whispers and chatter and catches glances bounced back and forth. No you are not alone here – and the more quiet ‘you’ get, the more ‘you’ that gets out of the way of ‘you’, the more of ‘you’ ‘you’ hollow out, the more you understand what it takes to be a one that is as ancient as these ones. And you breathe…and then you listen. ‘Nothing to hide…nothing to show’, as one I know so says.

Courtesy of LAUREN STERN

What is left of ‘you’ begins to look a bit more bristlecone pine than the ‘you’ that arrived here…And that ancient new you is offered sanctuary here among them. This is the hearts beat. This is the dance. If you will allow yourself to be led here rather than to lead, if you courageously beautifully disrobe all pretense at the foot of these wild ancient beings and offer just you – you will be re-membered. This is what it means to belong to the landscape – to be worthy of the landscape you so sprouted from.

Courtesy of LAUREN STERN

There is investment here. There is patience here. There is story here.
There is authentic beauty here. There is intimacy here. A sense of longing
and belonging, a desire to belong. Twisted, tortured, rooted, slow-growing,
slow-moving, hollow-full, dark, majestic, resilient…holy. A mirror… a
window. I am this tree. I am this dance.

LAUREN STERN
of
FERAL CHILDREN OF ARCHITECTURE
left to our own devices we flourish

Courtesy of LAUREN STERN

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