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Archived Journeys

The Trees

It has become apparent to me in recent months that talking to trees and having them reply is as natural to humans as breathing. The difficulty lies in first believing it to be possible (how outrageous) and in being silent enough inside to hear them.

Green woodland clearing; amidst the cool and silence, by Franz Bischoff 1864-1929My first real experience in this activity came while walking with a woman I care deeply for (and this will become a recurrent theme), engaged in intimate conversation. Without being aware of my surroundings at the time, we entered a grove of beech trees. The emotional tone of the conversation increased in its charge and became fairly overwhelming at one point. I was overcome with affection and hugged my friend tightly. After embracing for a short while, we turned to continue our walk when I felt a sharp pull to one side of the path and a flush of laughter and joyousness. I look to the side and saw a large beech tree which seemed to call out to me, and I ran to it. Touching it seemed too small a gesture and I threw my arms around it, ignoring the cliché. Peels of laughter roared through me. No more complex a feeling than that, but it compelled action until exhaustion made me stop. My friend looked on perplexed but patient until I finally came to rest at the base of the tree. I was panting and drained for a moment but without regret.

Now, I'll admit I was surprised by this entire scene. I had believed it possible but had not thought that I could participate. The sense of having received a communication from this tree and the fact that it was so powerful and moving just blew me away. It also inspired me to seek such communication whenever the opportunity presented. It did not take me long to discover that such opportunity requires more than simply approaching and touching a tree. Affinity and resonance are just not that clear cut.

Silver birch tree, by C. T. HowardOn another occasion with this same friend, walking through woods on a beautiful summer day, I heard a call from beside me. It was not so much an audio experience as a pull or inner desire to go to one side of the path. As I reached out and made contact with a tree there, I received (I am assuming) a desire to share the affection I felt for my friend. It was as if the tree wanted to take part in this fundamental human feeling. I asked my friend to come over and kiss me while I touched the tree. It was a slightly awkward moment as if we felt we were being watched. Still, the sense of satisfaction and gratitude which impacted on me was genuine. It probably doesn't matter whether that was me or the tree. It has only been subsequent interactions which have made this experience seem more likely.

One day a short while later, I came into town to meet another friend for lunch. I parked a short distance from her office and walked to meet her. As soon as I got out of my car, a wave of nausea came over me which mounted as I walked along. At my friend's suggestion, we went over to a bench by a large elm tree. We were both somewhat familiar with it through the auspices of a third party. Feeling a need to make some contact to ground myself, I reached up to touch the tree and my nausea left me with a whoosh.. The first thought which went through my mind was, "I bet you're wondering why I called you here."

Now things made a little more sense. That feeling in my belly was a call from the tree. (Well maybe.) So I says to the tree, says I, " So you called me, eh? What have you got to say for yourself?"

"You are out of balance," was the reply to that challenge. "There is too much sacral energy in your field." This seemed a bit odd, not very tree-like after all. Still I checked out my inner state and quickly assessed my approach to my relationship with my friend sitting just over on the bench. Sure enough, the tree was right. I was feeling and acting way too sexual and too emotionally involved for the circumstances of this relationship. It was not only affecting my inner balance but obviously setting myself up for pain. As I thought about this later in the day, I came to assume that the words attached to this conversation came from me. The realization was possibly from outside myself. Even if I made it up entirely, the understanding was valuable and indeed saved me a lot of heartache as my friend underwent changes through our relationship. I have since revisited this particular tree and enjoyed opportunities to converse. The theme of our conversations has been remarkably consistent. For instance, as I sat beneath this tree with a muffin and a cup of coffee, the tree asked me to share my snack with it. "How do I do that?" I asked.

"Eat slowly and with full enjoyment," came the answer. As I followed the advice, the sense of satisfaction from food and drink was astonishingly increased, as if I were really sharing the feeling of taste and warmth. Silly old tree even asked me to smoke a cigarette with it. I rarely smoked and didn't have any on me, though I was carrying matches for some reason. Off I went to find a smoke for the tree. About four steps away from the tree was a butt about half gone. I picked it up and sat again beneath the tree. It felt odd to be smoking someone else's refuse but it seemed the most likely solution at the time. Again I felt a sense of satisfaction form this smoke like no other time as the feelings seemed to be shared and expanded. "Strange tree!" I thought, as I stubbed out the last flicker of coals. As I stumbled away (nicotine is a drug after all), it occurred to me that I had never so enjoyed a snack. Thanks, tree!

Tree in Cap d'Antibes, Claude Monet 1888I have one more encounter to relate before leaving this topic of talking to trees. While walking with a friend (yes, another female), along the river in the center of town, we got to talking about trees and how easy they were becoming to talk to. Telling me that she had had an experience with this herself she took me to the tree in question and put her hands on it. Not willing to be specific, she says while embracing the tree, "She's excited!" nothing else, no hints forthcoming, just move away from the tree ma'am. OK! So I approach the tree and reach out with both hands. A surge of warmth ran through me and in a flash an image forms sharply in my mind. I am in flight on Eagle over the river. I can see the trees along the banks as we swoop and soar. The feeling of elation and freedom is unparalleled . My experiences of flying with Eagle have been in a detached state in meditation, but this time there was full emotional involvement. Though we only flew for 15 or 20 seconds, the sensation was exhilarating and fully engaging. For the first time in my experiences with trees the feeling of gratitude which washed over me seemed to come first from outside of me. This was a being who only wanted to fly but was rooted to the ground. I thought of Jonathan Livingston Seagull for a brief flash and I left the scene thoroughly stunned.

Cardiff Roads, by Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)I guess to sum this all up a little, trees are intensely curious about the human experience. They stand and observe life with great detachment but have little chance to feel beyond the purely physical. Vicariously experiencing the realm of emotion and sensation as we relate to them is a wonderful opportunity for them. Sharing their rich enjoyment of these feelings is equally wonderful for us. By all means, Hug a Tree Today!

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