Highway 4 cuts across the interior of Vancouver Island, twisting through the mountains. It’s been twenty years since I’ve passed this way and yet, when the endless rows of trees open to reveal the stillness of Cameron Lake, with mountains in her backdrop, my reaction is the same: the sheer beauty brings tears to my eyes.
Of course, I did not have my camera ready, but we park at the entrance to Cathedral Grove and enter the enchanted rainforest, armed and ready to capture the glory. Determined to get to the lake, I follow the trail to the left, only stopping briefly to ogle the trees whose presence lends their name to this place.
The reverence of the grove has not altered, although there are now trails clearly marked, and fenced walkways to keep visitors on the path. My memory, from so long ago, is of women, on a spiritual quest, wandering freely amongst the giants, finding quiet corners in which to meditate.
I slip off the path and stand at the water’s edge and contemplate another time, another woman, whose life would be forever changed upon return from this sacred place – a marriage of seventeen years about to end.
This lake is still the same, although her edges are more cluttered than I’d recalled – fallen trees and weeds blocking the approach. I forgive her this, recognizing that I too have changed, my edges marred by storms’ debris. She, however; remains steadfastly at peace, her essence immutable.
Immersed in the green majesty, I understand now the magic of the grove: how fantastical imaginings seep from the crevices beneath mossy covered roots, and how a woman, with heart open, might have experienced magic here once. I wonder if I’ve lost that capacity: to be inspired by the unknown, the invisible, or if the need for the supernatural has passed me by.
Everywhere I look there are symbols of death and rebirth – life finding roots in what has ceased to be.
Nature has so much to teach us, her lessons timeless and irreproachable.
Cathedral Grove continues to be a mystical place.