I’ve always loved trees. As a child they were among my best companions and places of imagining where I could play, hide or climb to the top and be transported to the Crows Nest of a sailing ship voyaging to a foreign land. So when I read the recent blog about “Befriending Trees”, it just seemed a natural and a familiar thing for me to do. What follows is a simple letter to my friend, The Tree, just to say what’s been on my mind over the last few days now that “lockdown” has been lifted.
My Dear Tree,
I’ve walked past you so many times and yet only recently did you catch my eye. Maybe it was because it was the very early morning sun shining through your branches or maybe it was seeing you standing tall and strong against the bright blue sky that made me stop and really see you for the first time. Or maybe it was because I needed something to remind me, that despite the whole world being sick, there was still beauty here in mine.So there you were and from that moment, when you lifted my heart and sent my spirit soaring again, you became “my tree” and my friend.
I’ve visited you nearly every day on my early morning dog walks and watched you flourish as you filled your branches with tiny buds bursting into a glorious, green canopy now hanging with acorns. You sheltered me from the unexpected rain storm that morning when I had come out without a coat and you gave me shade in the hot May sun. I leant against your gnarled weather beaten trunk and rested for a while listening to the ancient secrets your rustling leaves whispered to me. I stood with my feet pressed in between your mighty roots, restoring my connection with not just Mother Earth but also my own roots in another place.
So can you understand how angry and sad I was when I came to visit you a few days ago and saw the destruction around you? Numerous patches of burnt earth surround you now. The remnants of bonfires where groups gathered to celebrate the end of “lockdown” are filled with broken bottles and jagged tin cans. Half burnt branches and logs, pulled from the woods to stoke their fires, now lie strewn across the field around you and the half eaten food and plastic bags lie smouldering on the circles of scorched earth, bearing witness to the mindlessness and the carelessness of those responsible. It happened all around you, even underneath the shade of your great branches. I’m sickened at the thought of what might have happened if you’d caught fire and so saddened at how others cannot see you for the living, breathing being you are.
That wise teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn exclaims,
“A tree to me is as beautiful as a cathedral, even more beautiful. I stand before a tree with the deepest respect. I look into a tree and see the whole cosmos in it. And I can take refuge in the tree and I can get nourished by the tree”.
I wonder what you would say to us, dear Tree, if we would only listen...maybe something like this,
“Before you light your fires, please be a little more mindful and careful of me - a living, breathing being. Look into me the Tree, see the sun? See the sky? See the cloud which gives the rain that sustains the Earth which nourishes me? We are all here for you. I will reveal the cosmos to you and you too can take refuge and be nourished by me, your friend”.
Take care dear Tree, I hope to see you very soon. Love, Anne xxxx