Saturday, January 10, 2009
This old oak tree put its roots down several hundred years ago not far from my home. It helps me to put things in perspective, having been here since long ago, when only the Potawatomi people walked through here. Perspective. It's an easy thing to lose, but not in the presence of elders, whether human or oak. I visit this tree often, and its kin that are the remaining trees of a very old oak grove. Long before I came along, these old oaks were here, and will remain here long after I'm gone. They remind me of my smallness. They talk to me about endurance and standing strong over time. They tell me that even their existence here is temporary; that they too shall pass – so of course, so must I, and you, and everyone and thing that I love and hold dear. This isn't a dress rehearsal. Every day counts.
And they teach me that from a tiny acorn a great tree is born.
When I fell seriously ill a few years ago, they took me under their shade to teach me. As the shade of their canopy was stripped bare, so was I. They told me about standing exposed against the bitter winds of winter. They told me how to stand strong; how to endure; and how to wait for Spring.
I wrote this during that time of extreme schooling:
"When I step outside and walk through the park, I feel the Winter unlike ever before: the stillness, the darkness, the quieted landscape, yet underneath all of this "silent night, holy night" lies another world; a world of regeneration and potential awaiting to emerge. I think perhaps the winter doesn't irritate those of us who have the luxury of plenty of sleep and rest, the luxury of not having to rush, the luxury of not having to stress over the small stuff. For the first time in my life, I get to live in synch with Winter and it's quieter ways, and the only thing I really busy myself with, is that other world of regeneration and potential: seeds that appear to be quietly dormant waiting for the returning sun."
It's not easy to slow down; to move at winter's pace; to appreciate the light changing through the course of a day, living in the quiet of regeneration - the seed lying dormant, waiting for Spring. Quiet regeneration is hard work. It looks similar to 'doing nothing'. It looks like waiting. It's not. It's hard internal work; the hardest ever; letting go of the 'doing' and embracing the 'being', and waiting for the coming Spring.