Think Like a Tree Soak up the sun Affirm life’s magic Be graceful in the wind Stand tall after a storm Feel refreshed after it rains Grow strong without notice Be prepared for each season Provide shelter to strangers Hang tough through a cold spell Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky Be still long enough to hear your own leaves rustling.
“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees. ”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Can we live joyfully in harmony with nature?
Most modern city dwellers are completely out of touch with the cycles of nature. And we have created such a long path between natural cause and effect, that it is difficult to see what we are doing to ourselves. It is far from obvious to a suburban family that the water coming from their tap started out as rain or snowmelt flowing into a nearby reservoir. The water flowing from their tap seems endless no matter what the weather does.
Most of us have no idea where the wheat was grown that made our morning bagel, much less if it was a good year or bad for the wheat crop. Did river water diverted to a low reservoir near Denver hurt the wheat crop in Garden City? The trail from cause to effect is so long that the average person has no idea what effect their actions have on the natural environment. And this disconnect is at the root of many modern problems.
We have become blind, deaf and dumb to our role in the natural world.
No matter how much we try to tame and “civilize” this world with all of our technical wizardry – and no matter how smart we think we have become – we are still animals governed by the laws of nature. And I wonder what is truly civilized about dishonoring and destroying the planet that feeds us?
Insulating and removing mankind from nature is not the answer; it is the problem! From disastrous weather changes like the recent floods and typhoons to radioactive pollution so toxic it will haunt our grandchildren for generations, we end up hurting ourselves every single time we choose to ignore the laws of nature.
The answer is to reconnect with the natural world.
The answer is to shut up and listen to Mother Nature.
I want to embrace and understand my natural connections. And I want to honor the beautiful and gracious mother that provides for me; I want to pause and be grateful for the snowfall that becomes the water I drink. I want to spy the first shoots of pale green prairie grass pushing up out of the spring earth, and remember that the cattle herd on the hill will consume them and turn them into food for me. And I want to take the time to honor the trees that stand silent in the meadow and offer the oxygen I breathe.
I want to pause each day to acknowledge the many gifts Mother Nature provides for me.
“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity – then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.”
I climbed up Buffalo Ridge yesterday. I nicknamed this ridge that shelters our home to the southeast Buffalo Ridge months ago – it just has the energy of buffalo roaming free for me. Well, yesterday I climbed to the top of Buffalo Ridge. And now, as I stare out my window at that ridge, it looks completely different to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been talking about climbing this ridge for 2 years and I FINALLY did it! Yes, that’s part of the change.
But my internal shift involves more than just accomplishing something that I set out to do; Buffalo Ridge is now known to me in a completely different way. I have an intimate relationship with this ridge now; I look at Buffalo Ridge and see the rocks I scrambled over to reach the very top. And I see the circle of old pines that I sat beneath and rested. I remember startling the deer that were bedded down on its slope in the heat of mid-day. And I remember all the cactus just on the verge of blooming as well as the little white flowers already in full bloom.
Today I look out the window and I don’t see a ridge that I climbed. Instead I see an ally that watches over my home and neighborhood. I see a friend who shared some beautiful secrets with me. I am connected to Buffalo Ridge in a new way, and it will never again look like ‘just a hill’ to me!
“Let me bring you songs from the woods…” ~Jethro Tull
A bit of serendipity…
This morning I ended up taking a hike in Chautauqua Park. I had an appointment, but the Universe had other plans for me! I was already in Boulder when I found out that my morning appointment was cancelled. What to do with 2 hours? What to do? So many possibilities!
Flagstaff Mountain called out to me, and I found myself driving to Chautauqua. It was a beautiful morning to be outside, sunny and cool with a few inches of day old snow blanketing the mountain. As I began hiking straight uphill in snow, I questioned the wisdom of my decision. But legs and lungs soon adjusted to the climb and the view of the Flatirons was enough to keep me going.
Along the way, I relished the silence – what is it about snow on the ground that makes the woods so still? I felt like I was walking in sacred silence. Step by step, I picked my way carefully up and down the snowy slopes. Walking in snow became my morning meditation practice. With each step, my mind cleared and my heart opened wider.
Down in a hollow where I have never hiked before, I met this old Mama pine tree. I stood and listened to her view of the world for awhile.
I leaned against Mama pine’s trunk, listening and looking up into her branches, After 5 minutes in her space, I felt like I had been at a meditation retreat for days! And my heart opened even wider. Such is the calming, cleansing power of old trees.
Thank you Mama pine for sharing some of your essence with me.
You helped me make it a magic morning.
“…a Sign that the Universal Mind has written you into the Passion Play”