As a little girl, I remember feeling quite certain that Trees were as alive as you and me. I felt so deeply that I could sense their spirit that it was almost as if I could hear them speaking to me. Truly. They told of the comfort of a whisper from a friend, the knowing of the world and the cycles of life and growth and death and regeneration, and the very essence of the Universe in every miniscule part of our magical world. To this day, when my adult mind slows down enough to remember, I can walk up to a Tree, great or fledgling, and feel her pulse of life and connection within my own veins, calming me, centering me, realigning me back to Source…with just a momentary touch.
I woke up today with a splitting headache. Water didn’t help, resting did nothing, food was no good. Even gave in and took an excedrin after my skullcap tincture (which usually works wonders) did nothing. It just kept lingering – tension in my neck, pressure in my brain. ugh. I called off some obligations and was resigned to just let it ruin my day… except that my little friend, BlueJay, kept nudging at me with his muzzle, pushing on my hand, my leg, looking at me with these big, serious pathetically sweet eyes that seem to say “Come on, let’s go out and do SOMEthing, see something, smell something new, ANYthing at all.” (He’s a young-spirited four-legged canine with a rather deep wisdom, and many many lessons for me that he has been revealing since I brought him home from the rescue 9 months ago.) So, against my body’s desire to just wallow in uninspired migraine land on the couch, I complied with his knowing advice and we went to the NC Arboretum for a short walk.
Well, just a few seconds into the drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and I felt relief lift as the magic of the day opened up to me – this was exactly what I needed. Get out of the house, leaving behind my long to-do list, the laundry waiting and the dirty bathroom, and into the world of big pillowy rolling clouds, 70 degree weather, and perfect breeze kisses. This time of year is so luscious, green and juicy-full in the Appalachians that you instantly feel uplifted in its presence.
Then, once we hit the trail in the woods, there were those beautiful Trees, everywhere, as if waiting for an attentive ear, talking to me of our connection, seducing me in to take a closer look at them, healing me more each time I complied. Today, I found my attention to be on their mapwork of textures, like wrinkles in the aged, like trails in a field, like honeycombs and mountain ridges, mimicking the colorful rock specimens around them in color and stillness.
Another glance, and I am captivated by the very intimacy they share between one another. Some gathered closely in growth like family members huddled together, compensating and supporting one another from a shared foundation; some entwining their limbs with one another like lovers in an easy embrace; some so strong and still and tall and straight in their experience of the world; and others holding eloquent, graceful poses like toned dancers in performance. (If you’ve experienced groves of rhododendrons, you know what I mean.)
My mind then shifted its awareness to their scars and losses, so much like our own through life – scars to their bodies, worn outward with pride as a testimony of their unique life journey through time and space. So much to be learned from these Trees….
As they pass on from Tree-form life, fallen to the ground, they become the ingredients of wise nourishment for future generations and the cushioned layers of soft tender forest floor beneath the feet of the souls of travelers and animals, a delicate structure ripe for the growth of tender young roots in seasons to come.
So with the help of my four-legged friend to nudge me along and out of my misery, I returned to a place where I feel surrounded by the love of the universe, connected to the magnificence of nature, and centered by the presence of divine spirits, my green childhood ‘friends’, who know just how to pull me out of my head and back into the experience of living with the breath of Gratitude and awe. I am overwhelmed with acknowledgment for how accessible this is to each of us, if only we listen to the wisdom and whispers of our four-legged and long-limbed companions.