A Collision of Continents
A billion years ago the collision of two continents shaped the mountains of the Eastern United States.
In May of 2015 I stood on the 30 mile long Grandfather Mountain fault line where one continent began to rise over the other. The enormous thrust of one continent over another forced the Appalachian Mountains upward to 4500 feet.
The heat of impact was similar to liquid volcanic lava. Some rock was transformed into hardened granite. Other oceanic slabs of soft shale, limestone, and sandstone were severely bent and twisted repeatedly. Then they were eroded by the new streams and rivers. Waterfalls of 800 feet carved out their path to the sea by eroding the softer stone between the layers of hardened granite.
The volcanic heat began filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. The earth might have remained a planet without life were this to continue.
But the earth, as if with one mind, created an astonishing innovation. She invented the chemical process of photosynthesis. This innovation has been vastly under-rated in its important. The earth engaged the carbon dioxide with the Sun’s Light energy(y packets of Photons) and chlorophyll, to create an entirely new substance: oxygen.
With oxygen filling the atmosphere with enormous quantities a green earth became a future possibility. Textbooks sound as if we know all about this astonishing process of transformation, buy humans really don’t. The “how” remains an impenetrable mystery for scientists.
Now, standing before this steep collapse of boulders at the foot of Grandfather Mountain I look for a path to the summit. I saw none. But remembering this history, I am astonished to see trees growing out of the cracks caused by those two colliding continents.
I am amazed to see in this barren place green vegetation and lovely white flowers.
Beyond sight in the deep darkness below, the trees had allowed the gentle force of gravity to guide the tree roots toward the earth’s center, one of essential surrenders to another presence. This wisdom pervades the cosmos. It was because of a previous star exploding that our solar system was made possible. That previous star sacrificed her life so that a new galaxy and solar system could be created.
The earth enacts this wisdom and green life begins to flourishing on the planet for 65 million years, a virtual explosion of species took placed for 65 million years, until the 20th century when this era of creation and inventiveness and trying out of new creatures and plants came to an end.
Now standing on the grandfather mountain fault line looking for some way to make my way to the summit, I saw numerous sturdy, determined trees, ready for the hiker’s arms upon which to swing and grasp, making their way between the unstable scrapple and the narrow openings between granite boulders.
I begin the upward trek intent on keeping one step ahead of my fears which pursued me to the summit.
Only when I arrive do I look back to see the path I made where before there was no path.