It Trees Could Talk

Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are. ~Rachel Naomi Remen

If nothing else, this must be known: Even as we’ve grieved, we’ve grown . . . We are battered, but bolder; worn, but wiser . . . If anything, the very fact that we’re weary means we are, by definition, changed; we are brave enough to listen to, and learn from, our fear. This time will be different because this time we’ll be different. We already are. ~Amanda Gorman

My dad and step-mom used to have a weekly ritual of driving through Memorial Park Cemetery on Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee and identifying what they would call, “The Tree of the Week.” To listen in on their conversation it seemed as if each tree once selected became a friend, something (or someone) they would check on regularly and talk about as they drove through looking for a new specimen. “Darling,” my dad would say, “look over here. This one’s putting on a show.” And she would agree and they would speak of its beauty, its history, its lineage.

Perhaps, it’s because of my dad and step-mom, but I have a deep appreciation and fondness for trees. There was one tree in particular, an old sycamore, around which my boys loved to play. It was a tall tree, limbs reaching into the air with a wide trunk. Many days when we went out for our morning walk we would stop by the tree to touch it, to admire it, to climb it. My oldest son would shimmy up first with a boost from me and once he was settled in he would reach down and give each of his bothers a pull into the arms of that mighty tree. I was so enamored by its size and strength and I wondered how long it had been there with its roots drinking from the waters of the little Tuckahoe. It seemed old, just by its size – such a treasure hidden in the woods, discovered by three little boys seeking adventure.

A few years before that there was a tree not far from where we attended church that was on the west side of Pouncey Tract Road across from Wal Mart. As strip malls and shopping centers worked there way into the landscape this tree remained untouched. One day at church we were talking about places of spiritual significance and a friend, an artist, mentioned this particular tree and referred to it as “the perfect tree.” Picture perfect for the way it stood with its branches and leaves creating a lovely silhouette against the blue sky. She added what a source of comfort and delight it had become for her in her routine travels each week. After that I found that my eyes began to be drawn to that same tree when I passed that way thinking of my friend and this tree’s perfect placement and message in that busy and bustling area.

I wonder what the trees would tell us, if they could talk? Would they talk about the ever-changing landscape, of battles fought and won or lost, of progress, and play, and rest? Would they tell us that all will be well? That change comes and even good change can be hard. Would they say that there are days of sunshine and rain and there are also days of bitter cold and sweltering heat and one ultimately gives way to another? Would they talk of their roots and how they give them strength and stability and nourishment and steady them in times of duress? Would they whisper of how they have to find a new sense of balance when neighboring trees have fallen? Would they speak of their beauty, of their years of flourishing and of the scars they bear from the passing of time and yet the strength that remains? I wonder. I wonder what the trees would tell us, if they could talk? And I wonder if we would be able to trust their message and embrace the wisdom they might have to share.

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