“Some of my best friends and most trusted advisors are trees.” I startled slightly. I hadn’t seen another human in an hour or so, I prefer hiking when and where very few people are out. “Overgrowth a mile up, but it clears about 20 yards through…watch for poisen oak” amounts to an extensive conversation on the trail, for me. Usually, a brief head nod or hand-wave is a sufficient exchange. And that comes only with distracting effort.
I turned to see a short man wearing rounded glasses smiling through a silver sleek beard. “We humans have an interdependence with all life, and we share unity with all we may sense from the earth. We are connected to the rivers, the otters, the mountains, deer, birds, the sun, comets, constellations and . . . the trees.” His voice seemed to appear in my head more than through my ears, and his eyes seemed to say, “I know that, too”.
I nodded in acknowledgement; eyebrows furrowed. “Every natural being has a spirit animating and empowering them. Red Cedar spirit, Great Oak spirit, lake spirit, lightning spirit, cloud spirit … there are living, compassionate spirits throughout nature and as you listen – they have answers to life’s compelling questions. Bird’s song, crickets’ chirps, wind’s howl, river’s ripple all will help your quest for knowledge, survival, love and healing.”
“Sure.” I replied, but was thinking – humor him, there are daffier people and anyhow, what had the tree I had gazed at been saying? He went on, just then, “The tree says, ‘Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all. My strength is trust. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.’”
I said, “That’s pretty good.” He nodded. “There’s more, ‘A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind … It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.’” I smiled. “The tree bit, Hermann Hesse, not verbatim, look it up.”
first photo: https://druidgarden.wordpress.com/?s=beech+oak
second & third photo: Artie Camenzind