As nature reawakens
in spring I find myself awed and energized as I feel the
frequency this wondrous transformation produces.
Here in North
redbud tree with its lavender
flowers heralds the arrival of the season, followed soon after
by the white petals of the
As these two woodland
companions brighten the landscape, I perceive a magical energy
beginning to stir.
Most of us are so accustomed to seeing trees that we take them
Often we forget they
are fundamental to our life on Earth:
They act as our
absorbing carbon dioxide
and returning to us life-giving oxygen.
Trees provide us with
food, raw materials for our homes, heating, shade in the summer,
warmth in winter - and they beautify our environments
Trees are allies and a continuous reminder of the richness and
power that the living library of nature holds.
In this day and age,
however, we have forgotten our bond with these powerful entities
because our current way of living is not designed to help
nurture or revive this connection.
Our ancestors were intimately connected to the landscape:
nature and noted the seasonal changes and intuitively knew
that everything held its own magical meaning, especially
They approached trees
with respect because they knew these entities - who resided in
the underworld, the earth and the heavens simultaneously - were
endowed with their own form of consciousness.
Trees are the
longest-lived and largest plant form on Earth, and through
history have been acknowledged as symbols of power, wisdom,
fertility, and life.
The famous biblical stories of the tree of life
and the tree of knowledge are two archetypal views of the
tree, which can be found in mythical traditions and spiritual
teachings from cultures the world over.
believed trees to be infused with an abundance of divine
creative energy that could be consciously harnessed by the
adept, allowing access to other states of being.
Thus, groves of trees
were revered in many ancient civilizations, considered a place
of reflection where quiet encounters with supernatural forces
and beings could take place.
Trees growing in
rings were used by the Celts as sites for their rituals and
Cultures in Asia and
Australia regarded trees as mythical ancestors frozen into a
vegetable form, believing one could tap into their wisdom.
Over time, different species of trees acquired culture-specific
the bodhi, or fig-tree, is considered a symbol of
enlightenment, as it was under this type of tree that
the Buddha had his spiritual awakening.
cedars of Lebanon, prized for their durability, were
said to be used by King Solomon in the construction of
the great Temple in Jerusalem.
in Delphi chewed leaves
of the laurel tree before opening their minds to receive
mighty oak, a symbol of immortality and endurance, was
revered by the Druids, who ate its acorns before making
In my life I have
experienced memorable encounters with a variety of trees.
However, the best
tree story I know involves a dear friend named Henry,
who passed from this life several years ago. Henry was a wise,
caring, and colorful character who over the years helped many
people with their spiritual awakening.
With a sweet grin on
his face he would often remark,
"When it's time
for me to leave this world, I'm going to slip out of my body
just like I'm slipping out of my jacket."
As Henry said this,
he would dramatize his statement by removing his jacket in an
effortless, fluid fashion, holding it up, and then gracefully
dropping it to the floor.
One fall day, Henry
who was in his 80's, and in good health, was out delivering
telephone books. As I was later told, at some point he sat down
under a tree to rest and for Henry that was the end of this
reality - he quietly slipped away.
When they found
Henry, he was leaning up against the tree's trunk, a smile on
his face. It seems when his time came, Henry intuitively used a
tree to transcend this reality.
Recalling stories such as Henry's and my own tree memories makes
What will have to
happen before our culture is able to rekindle its connection
to these majestic entities?
Perhaps, as our lives
go faster and faster, and we are more easily thrown off-center,
we will realize that an antidote to the madness of life can be a
visit to the woods, where a few hours spent in the company
of trees, or a special tree, can bring a rich harvest of
inner discoveries and understanding.
When I take a walk in nature I allow myself to be led to a tree
and I send an inner greeting to show my respect and
As I approach the
trunk of the tree, I sometimes sit facing it, or I get close and
lean against it. I relax, breath deep, and calm my mind,
allowing myself to become one with the tree.
At times, in the deep
silence, I quickly become aware of how fully alive and
powerfully present the tree is, and I feel an all-encompassing
connection to the web of existence.
As I have come to
know, appreciate and revel the mysteries of a tree, I have in
turn developed a closer connection to the mysteries within