I know it may seem like a deeply creative act, that is – an act of pure imagination – to presume that I could have a conversation with a tree…but I have.
I have sat beneath Oak, Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Maple, Spruce, Black Walnut, Weeping Willow, Poplar, Cedar, Locust, Birch and Elm to name but a few — and we have silently communed.
Some of the best conversations I have ever had have been with trees and I can assert, like Bob Ross, that “there’s nothing wrong with having a tree for a friend.”
Apart from offering their grounded and immensely healing and peaceful energy, trees have something particular to say to me. And that is that although I love my time in the forest, and I prefer to go into the forest alone (for those are my moments to commune in joy with nature and the immense design of things) – I am supposed to bring you (all of you) into the woods. “Bring the others” the trees whisper to me, over and over. It’s like an assignment, my task, the answer to my burning desire to fulfill my purpose.
I am called to bring you outside, into the forest, to the very base of a tree. And let the trees take care of you.
And they already are taking care of you. As my friend, gifted artist and fellow tree-lover Anni Bretschneider reminds us: “There’s strong growing evidence that trees communicate through their root systems. It’s a thriving community network that includes Mother trees redirecting resources to younger saplings. Trees provide fruit and flowers, food, protection with their canopy, medicine, seeds, temperature control, shelter and habitat for animals and birds. Their roots absorb excess water, provide flood protection and reduce soil erosion. Trees provide the raw materials to build the tables we eat on, the chairs we sit in, the fires we burn and the homes we live in. Your very life and our ecosystem depend wholly on trees to survive. It is a reciprocal relationship where trees filter our air and keep it clean by exchanging CO2 gases and oxygen. And, as a community, trees give us tremendous beauty through captivating forests.”
Science has discovered so much about trees and their role in regulating temperature, weather and climate on the earth. I would like to believe that our salvation lies in science…but I find it easier to believe that salvation can be found in the forests and jungles of this sweet earth. And I feel that if we do not know and love the woods and trees of the land that holds us, we will not care if it burns.
And if we cannot know the woods and trees of the land that holds us as OURSELVES…we won’t care when it’s all burned down, when nothing is left for our children or grandchildren or their children.
And so many of us are lost. Not lost in the woods like the children in fairy tales but lost in a wasteland of our own making, relentlessly attached to our technology which pulls us ever further from the calm, healing love of the natural world – a world where we are perfect just as we are – thin enough, smart enough, good enough…enough.
We have forgotten who we are…but the trees know.
They long to bathe us in their love and remember us back into being. They live, in part, to let us know that we belong in the woods, with them. Although the outdoors may feel like foreign, even hostile terrain to us, gritty with dirt, biting bugs, heat and cold and mud and pollen, and even bears, we belong there.
It’s time to get lost in the woods again.
How can we connect with and have gratitude for trees? Hug one – yes, be a tree hugger. Or at least place your hand on one and feel it’s bark.
Drink in it’s shimmering beauty with your eyes.
Talk to one.
Sit with one.
Write about one.
And if you will not or cannot go outside and sit by a tree, then at your Maple desk or Pine kitchen table or Mahogany bookshelf, feel that wood grain under your fingers, the vibrant grooves, the way it meets your energy softly, returns your touch in a way that steel or cement or glass never can. Because that wood – it was once alive.
And all that’s left now is for us to be grateful, for all that has been given. For all we stand to lose.
So will you go outside now and stand with the trees? Will you listen? Just listen and breathe and be thankful.
For the Oak, she keeps asking me “Where are the others? Bring them and gather here in the forest, beside me. Let us breathe together and be together, again. All the lost children of earth, come to me now and be found.”