The whole life of these trees is to serve.
With their leaves, flowers, fruits, branches,
roots, shade, fragrance, sap, bark, wood,
and finally even their ashes and coal,
they exist for the purpose of others.
~ Srimad Bhagavatam
One of my favorite memories growing up occurred when I was about 8 years old. I had just climbed up to the very top of the tall tree in our front yard one day — when a storm front began sweeping across our neighborhood. It began raining very hard and a strong, warm wind was also blowing. I was in heaven at the top of that tree as it gently swayed 5-10 feet back and forth high in the air for well over an hour. I can still connect with the exquisite oneness I experienced that day as time disappeared. Of course, from that day forward that tree became a dear friend of mine.
This memory, and the gorgeous photograph above, reminds me of my love for trees as vibrant givers and teachers of life. One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, captures her reverence for the wisdom of trees in the following poem:
CAN YOU IMAGINE?
by Mary Oliver
For example, what the trees do
not only in lightening storms
or the watery dark of a summer’s night
or under the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now – whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade – surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in its own mood, comes
to visit — surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.
Although I usually send one poem each week, the trees themselves insist that I share another one of their favorites:
WHEN I AM AMONG TREES
by Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,”
they say, “and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”
Blessings of peace to your own rich memories of times spent in awe of nature in all its extraordinary, healing forms.
In Love, Gavin