Before you read this beautiful post, please take a moment to watch this 1 GD Minute video we did with Green Diva Julie, who is not only a wonderful writer, but an inspiring artist as well. This cool video shows her in her studio making one of her gorgeous cards from her greeting card line. Then please read on… GD Editor
The healing power of nature…
One of our trees, a Weeping Grandma Cherry, is losing limbs, losing life. I’m embarrassed by the flood of emotion… and I find myself hiding the tears. As I catch my breath, though, I know there is so much more to this story.
My hubby, Bill, has been warning me about her demise for years now, but I refused to listen. He’d first declared it without much compassion, as if her death was a bother. It would cost money. It might fall on the garage. A limb might hit one of the kids.
Year after year, I’ve sat and recharged in her quiet shade, gathering my heart, breathing out the overwhelm, breathing in the peace. I’ve smiled into her gnarly face wondering how to practice her stillness. Under her calming pink parasol, I’ve written out my hopes and dreams. I’ve wept out my fears, anger, and despair.
Today, I weep for her. For the mysteries. For the violence. For the long journey. For my Dad. So many sad goodbyes in life – to those who move where I cannot go. These deep rules of heaven and earth, hidden in the rough bark of life. Are we left to figure it out, alone, in our own backyard?
“Everything I let go of has claw marks in it.” Anne Lamott
One morning last year, as I was letting our dog, Merlin, outside, I was crushed by the sight – our restless neighbor had chopped down the colossal lilac between our yards. I reeled back in disbelief. In sobs. Every spring I’d reveled in this lilac’s scented curls. I’d gleefully waited like a kid, for her bountiful blossoms. I’d placed gushing vases in the kitchen and the bedroom just so I could bury my grin into her glorious purple perfume. The blissful smell of God-ness.
I couldn’t even look at my neighbor for days. Or the vacant space where the lilac once lived.
And now our treasured Cherry is getting ready to fly away. Poison Ivy is creeping up her trunk, as if she has already been reclaimed by a greater night. Her amber blood oozes out from craggily warrior skin. As I run my hand across her Braille, some part of my soul understands the big Book of hers. Her silence has always had a home in me.
For seventeen years we’ve been held safe in this oasis, this yard. My boys used to tug on her leggy branches to make it snow petals on their heads. They’d touch the cherry’s soft sap, in wide-eyed amazement. And after it hardened in the sun, they’d run their fingers over it’s glossy smile.
One Spring, back when my sixteen-year-old was four, the wind was kicking up a perfect petal blizzard. My boy took one look and scampered toward the back door. As he burst outside, the sun simultaneously came out from behind the clouds. I called to him, “the sun came out just as you did!” He yelled back, “yeah, that’s because it didn’t see me before!” Then he ran through Grandma’s pink waterfall, with arms and heart open wide.
He believed, quite naturally, that the Sun cared. For him. That the Sun saw. Who he was. That God placed the sun and the stars and old cherry trees, for us. And these things, pulsing with life, somehow love us, because Life loves us. My boy didn’t question the synchronicity that day. Why do I question my grief when I’m feeling adrift? When the world isn’t what I want it to be?
I realize I’m trying to hold on to what was never mine to keep.
Holding on so tight, just hurts. That includes feelings. When I ignore ‘em, they’ll spew forth at the most inappropriate people and places. They’ll create dis-ease. They’ll separate me from me, and me from you. Rejected emotions, like abandoned inner kids, need to be accepted and honored. No matter what age or how annoying. Tears help to set the pain free so we can trust the circle of life, again.
Until the next season.
Even though I feel stronger after I’ve acknowledged my tears and fears. Even though they make me the most real. Even though they deepen my compassion, and our common humanity. They open us up and pull us together, where we belong. As one. Even though I’ve had a loving Mom who’d always encouraged her saplings to “have a good cry.” Even with all that, I still find myself hiding my deep emotion. Our culture teaches us, and especially burdens our menfolk, with the notion that vulnerability makes us weak. Ha. And then a few days ago, Grandma Cherry dropped a limb right near my youngest son and his friend. And the dam broke.
“It’s time,” the old girl seemed to say, “to let go. Of the sadness you’ve been stuffing. Of the pain racking this world. Let it go.”
I walk toward our three towering Mama Maples, who solemnly bear witness with me. We watch our wizened friend from afar, as if we might catch a glimpse of some holy spirit leaving us. As if the quiet would give up her secrets.
There’s a pair of mourning doves that like to perch together on her high curves, and there’s a crow clan that loves to gab and laugh up there.
I return to these natural joys, often, when the world seems off it’s nut.
Today, they’re just making me cry.
I hope my neighbors aren’t watching 🙂
Then suddenly I imagine said neighbors joining me, without judgment or shame, to circle around Grandma, around the mystery, the people and the things we love so fiercely. Around the lives that can no longer be. Around the Greater Love that will always be.
I imagine the earth’s light coming up through our feet. Lifting us. The world. Higher – above the pain and the losses, to the joy beyond them all.
I imagine our hearts breaking open together and embracing all of it – the dark and the light. I thank the lilacs that once loved us, trees that breathe us alive, kids that teach us, a world that needs us, and Dad’s and weeping Cherry’s that leave us . . . better than we were before.
WHEN I AM AMONG TREES
by Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you, too, have come
into the world to do this, to go easy,
to be filled with light, and to shine.”
Please check out our YouTube channel to see our short, funny and useful 1 GD Minute videos with recipes and DIY tutorials. Here’s a recent one…
And if you want to learn more about the content of this video, please read the corresponding post!