listening to the trees…

November 18, 2012

My dear friend Nicki Peasley guest posts for me today…I often lean forward when she speaks, just waiting for her wisdom and goodness. She holds space in a really tender way, you can read more of her soul magic here and here.

Listening to the Trees

 I have been hugging lots of trees lately.  In gratitude for their unconditional love for us crazy humans.  No matter how careless we are, the trees continue to offer us their beauty, inspiration (literally), solace from the rest of the world… their lives.

Trees have no ego.  While I sense their acceptance of human appreciation, they don’t expect it.  They don’t need it. They are here to watch over us.  Still and all powerful.  Yet so very vulnerable.

Before Hurricane Sandy came through, my kids and I went around our neighborhood hugging the trees, infusing them with our compassion and wishing them strength through the storm. And once again, even on the brink of what could have been their destruction, they offered us their compassion, their strength.  No fear, only this amazing sense of calm and acceptance for what is, what will be.

There are conversations among the trees.  And if we listen with open hearts, we can even hear them speaking softly to us.   This is what they tell me.

“Slow down. Take a moment to stop. Plant your feet in the earth.  Intermingle your roots with ours.  Extend your branches and feel yourself filling with the sun pouring in through your crown. Allow any leaves that are no longer serving you to fall to the ground. And hold loosely the leaves that still adorn your being.  For they too will fall in time.  Trust… and surrender. “

I carry the tree’s wisdom with me throughout my days.  I watch the world through the eyes of our wooded friends to see the endless human race and all of its dynamics.

The champion, leading the pack with easeful and brilliant stride; those determined to be the champion, passion in their eyes; the walkers, who just keep moving, unattached to any outcome; the cheering crowd, dancing and merrymaking on the sidewalks; the injured, defeated and hopeless… and those tender souls who care for them.

We have all played each of these roles at some time in our lives, perhaps even several at a time.    But unless we take time to stop (even the champion can stop for a moment) to honor the raw vulnerability of every human experience, we are missing out on the message of the trees.

I’ve had a cramp (to extend the metaphor) the last few months. And while it has loosened its grip on me, I am still not quite ready to start running again.  Often, I veer off the course entirely, finding myself in the woods… with the trees.

And then I return to the streets, to the activity of living.  The people run by me, toward their next achievement, their next accolade, the crowd cheering for them. And I notice the volume of my ego increasing.  “Get moving, girl.  You’ve got stuff to do. You’re wasting time.  Make your vision a reality.  This just being isn’t enough. Go. Go. Go.”

But I am quick to catch myself in this destructive pattern. And I am learning to find great contentment in being the tree. Appreciating each season of release, stillness, rebirth, and awakening.  Watching and acting with intention, without attachment to ego, and manifesting simple gestures born of Spirit.

At the beginning of the month, I started a Grow Gratitude movement at my youngest child’s school.  I experience gratitude as the purest and most profound way to connect to self and other.  To focus on what’s right in our lives and in our world, instead of what’s wrong. To appreciate others not for a gift but for being the gift.  To open ourselves up to all the little miracles of every moment.

And to see this understanding unfold at an elementary school is nothing short of magic.

Ms. Campbell’s Class, getting primed for a whole school Gratitude Gathering in which they use their voices and sign language to express the community’s collective appreciation.

On the playground making gratitude chains (to wrap around the cafeteria) and gratitude bracelets. What is making your heart sing in this moment?

A lucky ladybug joining the Lovefest.

“Fox Rocks,” hidden around the school.  When you find one, express your gratitude to another and pass it on… (these rocks had been soaking up the wisdom of the trees forever… and agreed to leave the woods to spread some love among the humans)

For faculty and staff, a message attached to a love stone. (Suzanne Vinson’s amazing art work)

Love leads us to beautiful places when we allow it to.  And on that journey, we are wise to stop every now and then to hug a tree and listen to the message it has for us.  Then, when we are ready to start running again in that crazy human race, it will be with joy and ease and Heaven in our feet.

A meditation to do with your children on Thanksgiving Day…which is really any and every day.

*

Close your eyes or look down.  You may place your hands on your heart or rest them on your legs.  Take a slow deep breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth so that a very soft sound is made.  Picture yourself surrounded by beautiful light.  As you breathe in, inhale the light and feel your body filling with it.   And as you breathe out, exhale all the yucky stuff that has taken up space in you—any pain, any anger, any worries.. let them all go in your breath. So that you feel completely at peace in your body, in your mind, in your heart, and in your spirit.

Now imagine yourself in a safe and happy place.  Maybe you are on beach, in the forest, in a cozy room, on a mountaintop.  Sit comfortably in your special place and feel the peace it offers you.  Now, as if you are watching a movie that is your life…

See all the places that bring you joy (your home, your school, the swimming pool, the beach…) What places make you smile?

Now see the things that bring you joy (pizza, your bike, your computer, your favorite stuffed animal…)  What things make you smile?

Now see all the experiences that you have enjoyed in your life (vacations, soccer games, birthday parties, holidays…) What experiences make you smile?

Now, most importantly see all the people you are grateful for (your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends, your teacher, your coach…) Who makes you smile?

Allow that smile to show on your face and feel the gratitude that is bursting out of your heart.  Offer the sign for thank you.  Give yourself a hug.  And slowly, open your eyes.  May you hold this feeling of peace and gratitude in your hearts always.

*

Nicki Peasley is a student of life and a teacher of love.  In the past, she developed curricula and worked (played and learned and told stories) with elementary and middle school youth.  Now, she is living in the question of what’s next.  Perhaps just being human is more than enough.

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It started with a duct tape obsession this summer. They made Minecraft figures, purses, hats, anything you could ever imagine with the new craze of colored tape. Josiah asked to be paid in rolls of green instead of money for his babysitting gig. So I asked them one day if they wanted to do a duct tape project together, they were way in. So we made a tree. Josiah covered the top with green, Jack made the cherry hearts…the girls held the scissors.

Shockingly, there was very little drama in the whole project…and you should know there is always a little in every bit of family togetherness. We wrote something we loved about each person in our family on the cherry hearts and put it in the corner. I never know what to do with such things when we are done. I only know they are important to do.  This makes for very un-grown up house decor, but I don’t mind so much.

The tree sat in the corner of our dining room that now has just turned into a revolving laundry station. When the kindness tree project was well over,  I was itching for something more.  Something I could see, something grand…but I wasn’t sure what and maybe it had to be grand and big because my soul was in a funk, it was holding all the wrong kind of reflection. Do you ever do that? Does your soul pick up things that don’t belong there? It was desperately needing some re-arranging. It is usually around this time, when you are funkified that the universe drops something in your lap.

I was looking into storytelling photography sessions (more on that soon!) and I came across Image Bearers Photography …oh such loveliness from Sarah. She had a session with the Kliewer family (Lindsey is also a birth photographer) The session was so dear, but my favorite part was a wall of gratitude that the Kliewer family made in their home. *sigh* It held so much.

This was just the thing. The girls and I got to work, the papers flowed…as fast as we could finish one, someone else was shouting out another to add. “Did you put Myle’s animal noises on there? Those are super funny, so grateful for that!” …what about the trampoline?! Did someone add that?”

We. could. not. stop. I thought it might be a work in progress…but we just kept going until the whole wall was filled. …and we ran out of tape. I ran into the night to 2 neighbors to borrow more.

and then each person, wandered in, mid-papering…smiled, and went to bed.  I was alone to finish the last squares.

…and I stood back, looking up and down each row…and started to cry. It’s hard to not be overwhelmed when you are staring at floor to 10ft ceiling holding everything good about your life. …and your soul can only see the beauty before you, literally. …and you can’t stop staring. It becomes all your soul can hold, nothing more. …because nothing more is needed.

…you have it, you hold it.