Have you ever noticed how much trees contribute to our sense of community? As I sit here writing this I see a community of geese in my backyard gathered under a spectacular hackberry tree that serves as the center of our yard and the central gathering spot for the wildlife that graces our yard. No fewer than ten squirrels are scurrying about in search of stored treasures under the magnificent tree, while two others sit on a branch conversing with one another.
Trees line our rivers and fill our parks and serve as significant landmarks in our residential neighborhoods. Trees on the prairie mean people have settled there and community is thriving. We appreciate the presence of trees as a sign of abundance and opportunity for growth. While we appreciate their beauty and envy their magnificence how often do we take the time to actually interact with them? What if they crave our touch as much as we crave their shade in the summer? What if our kind words are as important to them as they are to our friends?
I have had the opportunity this summer at a workshop sponsored by GPEI and presented by Molly Traffas to take the time to actually talk to a tree and expect to get an answer. When the opportunity presented to actually speak and expect interaction I felt silly and childlike. I was certain that nothing much would happen but I attempted to remain open as this openness and expectation were emphasized throughout the day. I found that if I quiet myself and listen, really listen while expecting to receive an answer that nature does in fact speak to us in very real ways. At the time of the workshop that I am referencing, I was struggling with a personal decision. In discussing my issue with a large tree on the property, I looked up and saw that the limbs and leaves wrote out “Let it be”. My initial thought was that I was crazy and that the tree could not have actually given me an answer I could understand. As I sat there, I became more convinced that in fact this tree was speaking to me by its nature and in the words spelled out by its small branches and leaves. Whether it was my consciousness reflecting the answer to me, or the consciousness of the tree reflecting the answer, the answer was extremely meaningful to me in that time and place. Advice from a tree really is possible. Like so many things in life, openness and expectation precede a precious gift.
Sharon Schwarz, GPEI Board Member