Seated Under A Tree
“Yes, we’re here again, the tree and I.
This is such a holy place for me. I feel the closeness of the tree. My anxiety and inner turmoil fade away in the presence of quiet, serenity, security, peace and longevity.
The tree is four hundred years old. (Amazingly, at 83, I am almost one-fourth of that). Yet the tree was here long before I came along. Surely it will outlive me.
We don’t get into traditional conversations, the tree and I. (Trees, I’ve learned, don’t use words). Actually I don’t use them, either, while engaging in my silence oriented dialogue with the tree.
Its trunk seems far steadier than the U.N. or the Vatican. Its branches simply amaze me; they’re hospitable, friendly and inviting. Seated here, I am aware of my collection of aches and pains—gifts of aging—and, yes, litanies of anxiety that have seemed to mark my life from earliest childhood.
The tree does not move. (But I just did when I crossed my legs). Gradually, the tree reminds me it has lived through every kind of season and vicissitude along with hot sun, cold wind and rain. It has accepted these with patience.
Restlessness. I want to talk to the tree about this. How has it managed to survive the scary sensation of restlessness with equanimity, surrender and acceptance? It doesn’t answer me (of course). We look at one another closely. I perceive the tree’s seamless memory and quality of peace.
The world—in this moment of my own consciousness—seems to hold so little peace! Seated here in reflection, I try to shut out stark and terrible images of torture, despair, rape, violence, chaos, murder, egomania, empire-run-amok and ruin.
I cannot shut them out. These images stun my vision.
The tree does not move. It simply remains here with me. The tree is wiser than me, more of a survivor. The tree is obdurate, faithful to a fault, utterly experienced, obviously rooted in ways that I am not.
I see that I am (with the tree) a part of this world. A part of creation and creatures, epiphanies and disasters, terrible pains and, yes, great joys.
Gazing at the tree, I come to realize it isn’t simple at all but is immensely complex. (This gives us something to share). Its branches zigzag all over the place devoid of any kind of neat pattern. This tree clearly contradicts any easy formula for perfection. (Many other trees are far more elegant, even stunning). It isn’t conventionally attractive at all. On the other hand, I’d give it an A for character.
Perhaps needless to say, there is little or nothing sentimental about the tree. (Its picture would never end up on a Hallmark card). It is plain, down-to-earth, unfussy. But, by its very existence,it makes the strongest possible statement. It is anchored here and now.
Well, in another moment I won’t be seated here anymore. I’ll get up and move away. Hopefully I’ll be back. Wouldn’t that be great? To be with my good and old friend again. To share companionship and acceptance. To gather fresh strength. To sit quietly in unchangeable trust.
© 2006 Malcolm Boyd. All Rights Reserved.