Be a Tree

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.
It grew.
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

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a tree…”

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a tree,” Alain Le Goff liked to say…

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Photo of 700 year-old tree at Deception Pass, Washington by Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Look how they’re working …They’re linking the earth to the sky. That’s very difficult, son. The sky is so lightweight that it’s always at the point of taking off. If there were no trees, it would bid us farewell …You can see that the trunk of a tree is a thick rope. Sometimes there are knots inside. The strands of the rope work themselves loose at each end so that they can fasten onto the sky and the earth. At the top they’re called branches, and at the bottom, roots. But it comes to the same thing.”– Pierre-Jakez Helias, Horse of Pride

I love trees. They give us shade, shelter, and oxygen. They hold the soil to the hillside, fruit on their branches, and our tire swings above the ground.

Down the road from our house is a tree that I’ve come to think of as “The Giving Tree” – there are now two honey bee nests thriving inside its trunk, a little gardner snake home at its base, and a bird’s nest at the top…

Every year a little fir tree on the path along Bellingham Bay slowly begins accumulating Christmas decorations on its branches. Why this particular tree was picked to be the path’s annual Christmas tree, I do not know. But she’s a very jaunty little tree, and it brings me great joy to contribute to her Christmas finery, and to see her all gussied-up for Christmas.

Christmas tree 2

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55: 12

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psalms 1: 3

green shoes Christmas

(all photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

 

Immersed in Nature

When I’m outside, amongst trees and birds, or standing on a beach looking towards the sea, I feel connected to something beyond myself. It’s impossible for me to feel lonely, or depressed, or friendless, when I’m immersed in the life of creation.

nature

Photo of 700 year-old tree in Deception Pass, Washington, by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

A Healthy Environment and a Most Hospitable Tree

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great… He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches… He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth…  The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies…  O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches…. thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good…  Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. – Psalms 104

 Down the road about a quarter of a mile  there is rooted a most hospitable cedar tree.  A pair of garter snakes have made their home at its base, a happily buzzing community of busy honeybees have created a hive in its middle, and in a hole further up the tree’s trunk there is a bird’s nest.  The cedar tree has its own little ecosystem dwelling in it…

There are lessons to be learned from this tree. Note that it’s embracing the life living within it. The snakes, bees, and birds, and the tree are all living in harmony with one another. There’s no battle going on there – the bees aren’t taking up more space than they need for their hive, the snakes and bird aren’t fighting over trunk rights. There’s no evidence of greed here. Nothing trying to get more than its share of what it needs to survive.  It is A Peaceable Kingdom of a Tree.

And isn’t a peaceable kingdom what we want for our whole world? Don’t we want to see all of creation living in healthy harmony?

Our environment seems to be in real trouble right now. The Earth’s water, land, and air are polluted; our food has been genetically-altered from its natural state; we have rising seas and rising temperatures.  We appear to have gotten ourselves in a real mess.

How can we, as expressions of Life and Love, help heal our environment?

Working to help heal our environment has been an on-going demonstration for me. I’ve been involved in environmental causes since I was a youngster. I’ve written letters, signed petitions, marched with signs, boycotted corporations that seem to be working against a clean environment, written blog posts, taken photos, recycled, had No Car days, picked up trash, and tried to become conscious of the affect I have on the world around me.  These actions have all been the human footsteps I’ve felt led to take to help heal our environment.

But I’ve found the best place for me to START when I’m looking for healing is in my own thoughts – my internal environment.  As Jesus said  (Luke  17), “…the kingdom of God is within you.” I believe we carry around our own heaven, and our own hell in our thoughts. And to help heal myself and the world, I believe I need to be diligent about casting out the hell-thoughts of greed, selfishness, fear, ego, pride, cruelty, hopelessness, and guilt in my own consciousness – because those suckers are, for sure, not going to help me or anything around me.  And while I’m emptying my human consciousness of the hell-stuff, I’m filling my consciousness  with the heaven-thoughts of love, joy, kindness, generosity, hope, wisdom – these are the thoughts that bring me near to God, Love, and bring healing.

I’m not going to ignore the erroneous actions that come from greed and cruelty, or try to appease the greedy and corrupt in any way.  Mohatma Gandhi said, “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” And  I refuse to let the greed and selfishness that seem to be in the world have any power over me – I’m not going to let someone else’s greed make me afraid, or take away my hope, or have any control over me whatsoever.  I’m not going to allow some corporation’s dishonest engineering or thoughtless polluting have any effect on my health or well-being. I refuse to let the corruption in politics stop me from doing my job of expressing God – of being kind, wise, and loving.  I refuse to be led astray from my job of working out my “own salvation.”

Are we without hope? Is it too late to heal our environment? Are we already experiencing “the end of the world”?

Nope. I believe that “nothing is impossible to God” – that it’s never too late for a victory over evil. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Human hate has no legitimate mandate and no kingdom. Love is enthroned. That evil or matter has neither intelligence nor power, is the doctrine of absolute Christian Science, and this is the great truth which strips all disguise from error.”

I believe that as we transform and purify our thoughts – our outward environment will be transformed and purified, too.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth…And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. – Genesis 1

How lovely are thy branches…

“There’s nothing more beautiful than a tree,” Alain Le Goff liked to say…

“Look how they’re working …They’re linking the earth to the tree and sunsetsky. That’s very difficult, son. The sky is so lightweight that it’s always at the point of taking off. If there were no trees, it would bid us farewell …You can see that the trunk of a tree is a thick rope. Sometimes there are knots inside. The strands of the rope work themselves loose at each end so that they can fasten onto the sky and the earth. At the top they’re called branches, and at the bottom, roots. But it comes to the same thing.”– Pierre-Jakez Helias, Horse of Pride

I love trees. They give us shade, shelter, and oxygen. They hold the soil to the hillside, fruit on their branches, and our tire swings above the ground.

When I was a little girl I walked home from school by a property that had a line  of little fir trees which were left, unplanted and drying up, next to dusty holes that someone had dug for them. The trees seemed to have been forgotten and abandoned. My heart went out to them. I plucked one of the little firs up and brought it home to Mom. Mom tried to explain that those trees belonged to someone, but it did not compute – it was obvious to me that those trees deserved a better care-giver than the person who had left them, with their little roots drying up in the open air. Mom must have realized that if that tree was going to survive it needed to be planted post haste – so she found me a planter big enough to accommodate a tree’s roots, and provided a home for “Treesa” (the name I gave her). When we moved several years later, we brought Treesa with us and planted her on our new property, where she lived, grew, and prospered. (Treesa’s sister trees – the other little firs that had been waiting with her to be planted the day I walked past them – never did get planted, and didn’t make it.)

Every year a little fir tree on the path along Bellingham Bay slowly begins accumulating Christmas decorations on its branches. Why this particular tree was picked to be the path’s annual Christmas tree, I do not know. But she’s a very jaunty little tree, and it brings me great joy to contribute to her Christmas finery, and to see her all gussied-up for Christmas.

Christmas tree 2

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55: 12

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” – Psalms 1: 3

green Padden         winter trees in upstate NY 600 year-old tree in Deception Pass, WA      Adirondack winter trees (2) autumn trees            Bellingham tree autumn trees            Padden trees    boy in tree

 

all photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell

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