The son and I talked about the tree
on the drive home.
850 years it had lived on this planet!
It had been seeded in the late 1100’s –
around the time of Genghis Khan
and England’s King John,
before Mansua Musa or Marco Polo,
da Vinci or Michelangelo.
Before Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mooji.
It rooted into the soil as a tender seedling
and grew during the Black Plague; grew
while the ash from Krakatoa blocked the sun;
and while factories sprouted up across
the northern hemisphere. It grew while
soldiers fought to end slavery; while
World War I and World War II raged
across Europe; while our planet warmed;
and while division and despair
made humans sometimes wonder
if our planet was beyond repair.
Quietly, without fanfare or medals
or approval or star ratings –
it lived, created oxygen, and grew –
because that is what trees do.
And maybe when it was older and sturdy,
indigenous children played in its bends
and called it “friend.”
I like to think that’s true.
Yesterday I visited my wise friend, Charles.
He could tell I was scared about our world.
“Just be present,” he said. “Be a tree.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell