For the Love of Trees

In the winter, it’s easy to see the ‘bones’ of the trees that have lost their leaves. I’ve always liked them more when they’re bursting with new branches and leaves, but I’m learning to appreciate them in their wintry dos, also.

I hadn’t noticed until it got cold this year that the branches of the deciduous trees stretch toward the heavens. We think that tree branches are horizontal, but the tips aim upward, as does the new growth. I know that, scientifically, they’re pulling toward the sun, but everything in the physical world represents something in the spiritual world and these loving beings, called Standing People by some Native Indian tribes, are earth-angels, cleaning our air, providing wood and shade for our homes and even fruit. It’s   pretty amazing to stop and really look at a tree, to take note of its bark and general shape, and the variations of the colors of leaves–and then send a heartfelt message of thanks for all it does for us. They know when we’re grateful. That’s contact, connection.

The tree that was beaten

One day Max and I came around a corner and a boy, eleven or twelve, was whacking a young tree, that had been stunning in its beauty, with a long, hard plastic sword. I said, “You know, trees are living beings. They’re like angels and they are our friends. They clean the air for us.” I hadn’t seen his strange mix of emotion on any face before–and then, much to my dismay, he began to hit the tree more–with newfound gusto. I looked at him intently, trying to understand what he was feeling. Hate and sorrow, maybe? As soon as I left, he stopped the tree-beating show, but the tree has never recovered. Two years ago, the branches had leaves and delicate pink seed pods that hung from them like drops of water. Last summer it pulled inside itself, like a human curling into the fetal position. I hope it comes back this year.

In my mind, this experience has come to represent beautiful Mother Earth and the damage we’ve done to her with all our ‘success.’ We’ve trampled and poisoned our home base–some knowingly, most of us out of ignorance. We have inside us the seeds of Mother Earth’s love and beauty but they’re buried in our self-focused, shadowy thoughts and actions. We have pushed her to her limits and now it seems she is shaking, flooding, twisting, erupting and blowing us awake. ‘See me,’ she says, ‘for who I am. Know my love. I was made beautiful and bountiful for you. You may not destroy me.’