The dharma talk by Jane yesterday was on trees.  I’ve always thought I’d like to be a tree, just stand rooted, receiving nutrients and information from the ground and air, receiving the changing air, but after Jane spoke, and we went outside to root, I felt that yes, I like stillness, and I also like movement.  I moved my feet up and down and side to side. I’m not a tree.

We came back into the church and divided into groups of three to discuss our relationship with trees.

One woman prefers the city and has no relationship with trees.  The other loves to walk barefoot to her cabin in the woods. I shared my love of trees and a time when a tree physically reached out to comfort me.

I was sitting on our front step crying.  At Scout-a-rama a few years before, our sons had each received a redwood sprout about six inches tall.  Planted in one pot and then a bigger one, these sprouts had continued to grow until one was about six feet tall and next to the step.  As I cried, I felt a branch lean in and stroke my back. Empathy from a tree – yes!

It’s why I thought of starting a business where neighbors would gather before a tree is cut.  We’ve had to remove about twenty trees from our property over the years. They became diseased and had to go and each time it’s a loss, and certainly a change. Recently we lost an oak to disease. Our other oaks have now been given the equivalent of immunotherapy to boost their resistance so they can fight off the disease. Sometimes I feel the information between them disseminating through their roots. We share relationship, trees and me.

Trees absorb water and like a fountain spray it in the air.  When some of our huge pines had to come out, suddenly our basement was flooding with water. We had to put in a French drain.  I read that planting trees could solve the problems of climate change, but where I live the fear of fire means people are cutting down trees.  As in everything, balance is required.

I was also struck yesterday by Jane’s point that a mango will never grow on an oak tree.  That image gives me permission to settle more firmly into the ground I am.

After the talk, Karen, Jane, and I went to Limantour Beach, and saw two seals, and multitudes of pelicans and gulls. As we walked, we heard, though didn’t see, the Snowy Plover that are nesting and protected right now. After awhile, we found a sheltered place in the dunes to sit. 

One woman still has her mother’s ashes. Her mother never learned to swim but loved to watch the ocean waves. Where would her ashes find comfort now? It seems a topic of conversation these days – ashes. We decide to do a field trip to Fernwood Cemetery located near where I live. They offer options. Jane thinks she would like a place people could visit. I feel my brother’s ashes are happily galloping in the ocean. I think I want a variety of places but especially that. As much as I think of being a tree, I like fluidity.

Where we sat, a group of children came and played nearby.  As I sit here now, aware of grasses and trees, rocks, and sand, life moving through fingers and bones, I pray we protect our children, all children, every child on the planet, in every way we can, and that includes caring for grasses and trees.

In her talk, Jane suggested we each choose a quality we want to manifest right now. My quality is Peace!

Grasses in the dunes

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