Lessons From a Tree
In my first year of Acupuncture school, there was a class called “Partnership with Nature.” During this time my classmates and I, the thirty of us, were sent out into the wilds of Patapsco State Park to observe the passage of the seasons – to smell, hear, and see and observe just as we do in the treatment room. There is much to be learned from the motion of a river, or the vision of a green sprig-the movement of the seasons outside is a great teacher of how the seasons move within each one of us, and that the continual movement and flow of each is essential to the health of life.
There was one exercise in particular that left me with a lasting message, a poetry about the very nature of being. We were asked to pick one spot in nature, and to go to it with the intention of simply being there, allowing whatever wisdom or awareness present there to be made available to us. My spot was a huge old oak in the woods, on a hillside. While sitting there, it was very apparent that the tree had a certain life experience to share. I jotted the following notes in my journal; wisdom from a tree:
I am just being, parts of me rustle in the wind. But at my core, I am dark, expanding within, rings upon rings; water is slow moving up, but I am still within it all. What clings to my bark I hold; seed pods, a worker ant; I am old. But I am here, now. I know it may not always be so, so I am certain of my life’s expression. I will nurture and hold indifferently, my purpose is unaffected by this. I seek the clear, open spaces, and the only road there is through union with everything that surrounds, through disappearance. Yet I am one, unique, nothing else exists like me, and nothing else ever will. I point to the sky even as I am rooted here in the earth; look, listen, I point to the sky! I give shelter as I do my work; I enjoy the natural benefit of life without design. I am content to be. In my leaves there is joy and I know that they will fall. But I do not seek to dampen any expression.
The cycle is without end; human life is precious, having capacities for action that a simple tree cannot; but know that each has a purpose nonetheless. While humans can confuse and muddy the water, we cannot, and humans can learn from our purity of being and faith in simple expression. There should be no question. Be at peace with the way each one is. Receive light where it falls, nutrients where they are provided. Winds move around and some through. They give us strength, courage, and body; they shape our destiny. Fear is unreal. You only have to look at my roots to know it. We go to the deep, dark, places; reservoirs of Qi live there in the unknown where people rarely go–afraid of the still, afraid of the deep; but this is where we gather strength, this is how we manifest outward and know our inner nature simultaneously. This is love, this is not a guarantee, it is a labor into the unknown moved by a source within. It is a truth allowing us to manifest in our true form. Don’t you know what you were meant to be? To meet me on this day? Be reminded by the worker ant, how to live, unselfishly, from pure consciousness. Seek the open spaces that exist in the crowded creation forest. You can be part of it all and still know this spaciousness.