Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Talking to Trees

Ireland is where I have felt at home... more than anywhere else on Earth. I've been on two different Celtic pilgrimages there, both wonderful, both overwhelming at the time, both with far-reaching ramifications on my thinking and living.

Now I am involved with a community that recognizes how disassociated our human society is from the natural world... how we have become disconnected from the Earth and the understanding that we must live in harmony, not domination. One of the exercises on the last Ireland trip was an effort to get the participants to reconnect with nature on a purely intuitive level. The instructions were actually pretty lame: Go out into the countryside in search of a tree. Ask it a question. Wait for the answer. Come back and journal about the experience. Oh please! But, not wanting to be disruptive, (everyone else seemed on board with this) I kept my mouth shut and went in search of "my" tree.

At first a few seemed to be calling "Pick me! Pick me!" and I passed them by. They were too beautiful, with rich canopies of leaves, strong trunks and shapely branches. Although it hadn't been diagnosed at the time, a stress fracture had crippled my right foot, and I was in pain. Stiff, strong hiking boots were keeping me somewhat mobile, but it still hurt to walk on unlevel ground. I thought I had found one in the far corner of a field, but a stream blocked my path and I took that as a sign not to cross over. I headed west for a stand of scrawny saplings, but they weren't for me either. Then I saw her.

She was bent almost in half... had been struck by lightning, and other trees next to her laid across her trunk, weighing her down. She was pinned in this position, never to grow straight again. A broken branch hung down to the ground and made an archway to walk through, to stand under. As curled and worn and damaged as that branch was, with moss and lichen growing up her arm, she still sprouted leaves that were green and full of life.

I acknowledged her strength, her fortitude, her willingness to cling to life... and asked my question. The answer was one I'd heard before. I was ready to discard it as an old answer I had made up, not hers. "All you need to do is be." But the tree went on to say more: "even in your dying you will provide nurturing for some living thing—all the way to the grave you can still give the gift of living."

Now at sixty, that message means even more to me. Pray she was right.


HeyJules said...

I'm just speechless...

kpjara said...

I hope I learn this lesson at some point! WOW...

Praying for your Prodigal said...

What a beautiful post! Of Course--she was right!

First time here, so glad I found your blog.