I wonder why. What am I avoiding?
Sitting here in the quietness of the still house, I look out the window and at the same time, let my awareness move inward.I can sense some unease in my trunk, my breathing is shallower than normal. And there is something grating in there, like two pieces of sandpaper being rubbed together.
I notice the one orange-leaved tree in the distance and I think of fall as a time of change. A time of letting go, of giving ourselves over to something larger than ourselves.
The tree does not even need to trust that new leaves will return in the spring. It just is.
Today it is a tree with orange leaves. In short time, it will be a tree with no leaves. And in the spring, it will be a tree coming into bud. And on it goes.
I think the tree is lucky that it does not need to learn to have faith in the mysteries of nature. It simply does its job of being a tree, and in doing so, helps clean the air, protects soil from erosion and provides shelter and nourishment for animals.
The tree does not twinge its branches in angst, wondering if it is doing a good enough job producing oxygen. The tree does not question why it has grown to flourish while the tree next door has withered in its youth. The tree does not worry that its fall colors are too loud and too noticeable.
There is something to learn from the tree's wisdom.
When we root ourselves in simply being what we are, the mental clutter clatters to the ground.
This acceptance creates space on the inside for greater awareness, for rest, for self-love.
In this spaciousness, I realize where that sandpaper feeling is coming from: I heard yesterday that a five year old was killed in an accident in our town over the weekend.
I think of that family and the grief they carry today, grief that they did not know last week.
What good does it do to contemplate how to be like a tree when someone else faces such pain?
And what about the myriad painful experiences that people all over the world are having at this moment?
People whose homes are torn apart by war, people whose families are torn apart by violence, people who suffer in the face of illness, people who are lost with no place to turn, people who have given up hope of feeding themselves or their children.
Do you see how quickly I have overwhelmed myself with the suffering of the world? It is a risky road to travel down – it brings feelings of powerlessness and fear. It begs the question,
What can I possibly do in the face of such suffering?
Perhaps I am not asking the right question. What if, instead, the question becomes,
What is possible in the face of this suffering?
I cannot save the world, but I can touch people with kindness.
I can express gratitude and show compassion as I go through my day. I can speak up for what I believe in. I can let go of the mental clutter and angst that clogs up my kindness ducts. I can create the spaciousness on the inside that helps me connect to the divine energy that is God.
And I can practice being a tree – with roots firmly planted and a strong trunk that stands upright amidst tragedy and unanswerable questions, with supple branches that reach out and bend with the wind, and with the bright leaves that announce the season of letting go.
How does the image of the tree speak to you today? What about the tree calls to you in this moment?