Homage to Flowers and Trees

Today I attended a dharma talk in Point Reyes Station.  Susan Moon continued the theme of trees by speaking of a favorite childhood tree, and talking about famous trees in history, so the tallest, biggest, oldest.   I learned that wood stores carbon so the wood lining the church windows and walls, the pews, the piano, all help with climate change. Wood products store carbon for life. No wonder I love wood so, no matter what its form.

We divided into threes to talk about how our childhoods were affected by either a personal tree or a troupe of them.

I spoke about the tree I climbed up into as a child to sit on top of the world feeling embraced.  I also spoke of the Redwood tree that reached out to me to stroke my back with a branch when, as an adult,  I was crying. Then, I remembered back to when we lived on the Mississippi River, and I walked in what I perceived of as my own personal forest. I was around ten.

One man spoke of raking leaves as a child. It was a meditation and even as he spoke, I felt a comforting sweep, the rhythm of breath surrendering to a task. We bonded in sharing our memories of trees.

More observant now, receptive, we looked outside and noticed that trees were looking into the room, and even though rooted, were swaying in the wind. We walked out grateful for all that trees give: oxygen, witnessing, shade, texture, variety, food, and emotional support.

Flowers offer color, scent, vitality, and rest

Day 75: Being a Dendrophile

Those who’ve been following this blog know I’ve been keeping an accounting of the days since my brother passed away.  This is day 75. Yesterday his wife and daughter flew back home to renew their lives, one to CT and one to Boston. I sit with that now, with the life that each of us roots and rises.

I am a dendrophile, a word I just learned.  I love trees.

I remember the first tree I fell in love with.  It was in our backyard on University Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa.  I climbed up into it, and sat embraced. The trunk rose, then spread in a hand-clasp of four. It is my special place even now though I also revere the redwood tree in my yard that rises as one to become two.  

Today I am with the Is that So? story.  There are different versions but the point is that things happen to us, and each event is open to interpretation as to good or bad, but though the immediate interpretation may be perceived as good or bad, in the long run, it all evens out.

I can say the “midlife crisis” and my experience of menopause was intense but it led to a breaking open of my shell, an examination of my life.  It led to an “airing out of the fairy tale” in which I’d been raised, and opened a new ability to know myself. Though painful at times, I wouldn’t change it for anything.  It allows me to be who I am now which isn’t to say I don’t still have a long way to go.

When I went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for cancer treatment, and was “cut, poisoned, and burned” as one person put it, I felt how connected we all are.  I was immersed in love.

Now, I sit here, surprised at the hit I took with my brother’s passing.  He’d been sick for three years so I’m grateful he’s free of pain and expanded into a wider world.  I’ve spent the last 75 days remembering back, but now, I’m ready to look forward again, to enter into a time span more connected with trees who tend to live longer than we.

I look to my teachers as they rise and give oxygen.  I’m grateful for all we share. As I allow the trees to move through me, my horizon seeps.

Redwood tree in my yard greeting the morning sun