August 12, 2022
Trees have always been a centering, grounding force in my life. When I was 3, my parents bought a house in the City of Richmond on a mostly wooded quarter acre lot. I am certain all the years I played in those woods and hung out in my tree house contributed to my love of trees. As a kid, I would lose track of time staring up into the sunlight as it filtered thought the pale green beech leaves in the Spring or the golden hickory leaves in the Fall. Even in the Winter, I adored the way the sunsets highlighted the bare oak and poplar branches in the valley below our house. Trees have been a great source of mindfulness over the course of my lifetime.
When my first husband and I bought the house, I still live in today, it had a very shady backyard that I loved. We had a huge, gnarled oak tree that likely predated the construction of the house in 1948. It fell in a big windstorm in the summer of 2003, narrowly missing the shed and taking out part of the children’s swing set, moments after they went inside. We decided to replace the tree with another oak, so Labor Day weekend in we went to pick out a pin oak in honor of my father-in-law who adored them. Hurricane Isabelle was roiling off the southeast coast of the United States. We brought it home on the roof of our Subaru station wagon, intending to plant it that afternoon. As we listened to the news driving home, we decided to delay the planting and to place the sapling on its side, close to the house to protect it from the storm. As it turned out, that was an excellent call. As the remnants of Isabelle ripped though our neighborhood, many of our neighbors had multiple trees snapped in half. We lost power for 14 days. After a day or two into the clean up, we planted our pin oak with love and care in the hole left behind by our old oak tree. It was a skinny little sapling and perhaps 5 feet tall once the root ball was buried. But, we watered, kept it mulched to retain moisture and over the years it grew into the mighty oak depicted above.
Now, that oak is my meditation tree. I lie in its shade in the warm months seeking refuge from the sun in my hammock. I can watch the birds feed from the feeders we have placed on its lower branches in the Winter. In the Fall, I enjoy the crisp scent of its leaves as I rake them into piles. In the Spring, I love watching its new leaves unfurl with their delicate, lacy greens.
Planting a tree is an act of faith. You never know if it will grow as healthy and strong as you hope. For it to reach its full potential, the tree will need decades to mature. I have heard it said that oaks grow stronger when they face strong winds and stormy weather, a lot like people do. In many ways, the tree you plant today may truly be a bigger benefit for your descendants or at least the people who occupy the land after you move on. Today, my pin oak grounds me and beings me solace. Together we have endured all kinds of trials and tribulations, perfect Spring days and stormy weather. It is my hope that it will bring joy to people long after I am gone.
One thought on “Tree Meditation”
Lovely images. The theme of roots and foundation, and strength from adversity resonates with me. Thank you for sharing.
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