- Rootedness, Steadfastness, Reaching For The Sky.
Trees are planted in the earth, their roots stretching down into the depths of our planet. Then up, up, up, they grow, towards the heavens.
They reach far, both above and below us, being simultaneously rooted and extending to the sky. They seem to say to us “Stay solid and firm, and reach for the stars, as we do.”
“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” – Kahlil Gibran.”
“All tall trees are wise, according to the West African teacher Malidoma Somé, because their movement is imperceptible, the connection between above and below so firm, their physical presence so generously useful.”
They connect us with the past, where they are deeply embedded, and their new growth and outstretched branches offer us hope for our future.
- Deep, Entwined Roots……..
Van Gogh. Tree Roots. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Love is like a tree, it grows of its own accord, it puts down deep roots into our whole being.”
- High branches reaching unto the heavens above…….many people see such ancient trees as mystical and religious in their towering, imposing, majesty…..
Constable. Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop Grounds c.1825. Wikimedia Commons.
“After a while I moved farther up the hill, where I could hear birds singing near and far in the silence of the trees. The presence of the trees was very strong…The big oaks stood so many, so massive in their other life, in their deep, rooted silence: the awe of them came on me, the religion.”
Ursula K. Le Guin. ‘Lavinia.’
“A grove of giant redwood or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great and beautiful cathedral.”
“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.”
This powerful spiritual quality that great trees possess has inspired writers, artists and poets for centuries. At the same time, the trees maintain their grounded earthiness.
If we think about it, the combination of both rootedness and spirituality is one that surely can be an inspiration and an example to us humans.
- Can we achieve this within ourselves, keeping our head in the clouds and feet on the ground?
If we can, this will mean that we will be able to use our imagination and follow and rejoice in our dreams and aspirations, no matter how unreal they may at first seem.
At the same time, we will be firmly rooted in reality and practicality; we will still be reliable, steadfast and sensible.
It is quite a tall order to be so balanced, like a tree. We need the trees to show us the way, to teach us about the circle of life, to remind us of the flow of the seasons….
Alone in the Forest.
He sits and thinks of the things they know,
He and the Forest alone together:
The springs that come and the summers that go,
Autumn dew on bracken and heather,
The drip of the Forest beneath the snow.
Through the many generations they have lived, trees have seen so much. There is nothing new to them. They have seen it all, witnessed all, joys, sorrows, wars, pestilence.
- Trees Depend On each Other….
In his interesting book, illustrated below, forester Peter Wohlleben describes how trees are interdependent and need each other to grow strong into old age.
Through their roots, they exchange nutrients; they protect each other in groups by ‘creating an ecosystem’ that controls the surrounding temperature, stores water and provides humidity.
Trees ‘know’ that they are stronger together. Again, we can learn from their benign and nurturing interdependence, especially during times of crisis.
2. Shelter, Shade, Pure Air, And Protection
“Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish.”
Van Gogh. Undergrowth. Wikimedia Commons.
Trees give out oxygen, and take in carbon dioxide, so that we can breathe freely the air that they purify and filter for us.
They also help clear the air by absorbing and thus reducing the amount of pollutants from the atmosphere around us.
Trees prevent soil erosion, and also help to retain water in the soil.
We use their spreading, leafy umbrellas to shield us from sun and rain, we climb them for protection, and sometimes even live in their branches.
Our children enjoy climbing them and playing around them; we enjoy their woody scents and their solemn beauty. Spending time around trees is known to reduce stress.
6. Wood, Food, Medicine.
David Hockney – Arranged Felled Trees . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Trees offer us so much; we make houses and furniture, paper, utensils and tools from their wood, we eat their fruits, oils, seeds and nuts.
From them we take spices, such as cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, and sweet foods like maple syrup and chocolate.
We make medicines from trees to treat illnesses such as asthma and malaria. There are some treatments for cancer which are derived from pine trees.
From trees we take soothing lotions and balms, for healing and for cosmetic use.
The bounteous gifts that trees offer us mean that we must plant, protect, preserve and care for them at all times. They are a vital part of our existence.
“Life on earth is inconceivable without trees.”
Paul Elie Ranson – An Apple Tree with Red Fruit [c.1902]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
I will end this post as I began last week’s tribute to trees: with a poem by the wonderful Mary Oliver.
How I go to the woods
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.
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