Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tree Meditation


Here's an excerpt from some of my work at school this term. Yep, it's a business school and it makes sense (image from my camera).

I knew exactly where I was going for this assignment before I knew what the assignment was about. There is a grove of magnificent, majestic, and wise oak trees near my current home called the Waverly Oaks. Apparently, these trees were well known in the 1890's around the Boston area for inspiring artists and writers. I stroll through their park quite often, many times early in the morning. There is one tree that stands out amongst them, though it is somewhat hidden by the contours of the land around it. I have walked by it hundreds of times over the past three years, and nearly always glanced at it and wondered just how old it is and how much it has seen. It is clearly ancient, with branches that dwarf nearby trees. Moss grows on it, covering in various thicknesses the knurled and crumbling bark on its crooked branches. Scars pay testament to the ravages of Nature and the well-meaning maintenance of its human care-takers. I was drawn to it this time.

I was somehow inspired to simply rest my hands upon a branch that reached indirectly from the trunk, wending its way out, up, down, and down some more until it was chest high for me. Before I ended up there, I looked closely at the trunk, wondering if I should sit up against it...that did not draw me. It's as if I wanted to be in touch with it in some way, yet at the same time have the ability to observe it.

I felt the cool rough bark and the drying moss on my hands. It is a cool day, a chill gusty breeze reminding me of the winter to come. With my hands on the branch, not leaning and not hanging, I felt the small movements caused by the breeze; I gently moved with it. It was an amazing experience, feeling my body almost imperceptibly sway with this massive living organism, both of us yielding slightly to the greater force of the wind.

Immediately, I was at ease, with a faraway feel in my eyes as they peered at the tree's trunk and the surrounding underbrush. I did not feel as if I were meditating; it was more of a reverie. I was there, and aware of how connected I felt, as if it were a lucid dream. I heard the passing cars, the rustling and falling leaves. I was present...mindful.

I did not ask the tree what I was thinking, the questions I jotted down in preparation for this meeting, nor did I ask the tree for its permission to touch its limb and spend some time there. I felt comfortable and invited; as if my arrival was not unexpected (does this mean I feel I deserved to be there?).

The simplest thought occurred to me as I swayed there gently with the tree, a thought that the tree may have gifted me with or merely helped me discover in myself...

No matter how massive, old, wizened, and sturdy one may be (or appear to be), flexibility, the ability and will to sway with the winds of change while maintaining one's commitment and vision is the key to a flourishing and exuberant existence.

This is relevant to what's happening in my life now; maintain perspective, maintain hope, maintain vision, and sway with the vagaries of life...it will bring me back.

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