The wisdom of a tree . . .
Trees show up a lot in my poetry and life. This afternoon a look at some trees reminded me of this journal entry from September. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina for a meeting. I was feeling a bit lonely and bereft in the midst of the meeting. I ended up on a bench outside. Here is what I wrote.
I turned at this moment on the bench and realized there was what I needed – right in front of me – a very large tree. I am trying to avoid the ants and I turn my feet up on the bench . . . and see the enormous tree spreading its branches over my head with occasional dead leaves dropping on puffs of wind. Some branches are green with growth, and others dead and leafless from the recent years of drought. And I’m energized by seeing what is already here – a tree. A symbol of life and in this moment of the church. What can this tree teach me?
It is old.
It is broad.
It is divided, yet unified.
It is new each season.
It is strong.
It is flexible.
It is restful.
It is alive.
It is rooted as deep as it is tall.
It is nourished and nourishing.
It helps me to breath more deeply, to relax more genuinely.
It takes in the sun and rain.
It bears fruit in season.
What is this new thing? It is an ancient living thing. It is older than this church, yet renewed each year (like following Jesus and the church through the lectionary). It takes in the nourishment of sun, air and water and minerals by simply living. It is what it is.
A new thing is how I am noticing it. I am changed. I am also changed by being here; by changing my location and angle of vision. I am what and who I am more authentically under its branches.
I am privileged. As families come and go in crisis, in need of food, in challenged health, in uncertainty about where they are or from where their next help will come. I simply sit here on a bench, with a meal awaiting me, a job that I adore, an airplane waiting to return me to my family. Sitting here under this tree reminds me of the great privilege and responsibility my riches bestow on me. Not to hold, but to share. How do I put all the accumulated wealth and knowledge and network of resources into service of the other? What is my calling?
What is this new thing?
“Loaves and Fishes” is the agency name on the sign. Sharing the little we have in such a generous way that others are inspired to share what they have until there is an abundance and community opens up around us. That is the real miracle in the Jesus story of feeding the five thousand.
Sitting still in a strategic place and being open to those who come by. . . . being available to the sacred in this moment. Holding the space.
This is what I already know how to do. Can I share what I know? If I sit still long enough, will someone ask? How will I respond? Can I be non-anxious in this space? Will community ever come to me?
Thank you, O God, for the wisdom of this tree.