“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”
– Khalil Gibran
On my morning walk in the woods I remembered a story from the classic book by Dale Carnegie, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”:
“On the slope of Long’s Peak in Colorado lies the ruin of a gigantic tree. Naturalists tell us that it stood for some four hundred years. It was a seedling when Columbus landed in San Salvador, and half grown when the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth. During the course of its long life it was struck by lightning fourteen times, and the innumerable avalanches and storms of four centuries thundered past it. It survived them all. In the end, however, an army of beetles attacked the tree and leveled it to the ground. The insects ate their way through the bark and gradually destroyed the inner strength of the tree by their tiny but incessant attacks. A forest giant which age had not withered, nor lighting blasted, nor storms subdued, fell at last before beetles so small that a man could crush them between his forefinger and his thumb.”
I call the tree in this post Oma, German for grandmother. There aren’t many old cedar trees like her left on this small peninsula in Washington State. Omar’s been through hard times in her long life. Her top half is gone. Some of her limbs have split. Some big branches are bare, but still she reaches for the sun and grows.
I thought about how the incessant thoughts that upset our peace of mind, the ones that wake us at 2 AM, or make us fearful and small, are like the beetles that attack gigantic trees – over time they will destroy our inner strength.
Whenever I walk past my grandmother tree I lean my forehead against her weathered bark to take in her strength. I ask her to help me feel rooted. I ask her to pass on her wisdom about how to thrive during times of adversity.
If I get still enough I feel her healing energy pour into me.
If get still enough I hear her whisper,
“Bless the earth you stand upon.
Plant your roots in the soft place of your heart.
Because love is the only prayer.
Bend with the winds of change and everything will be all right.”
And if I get still enough, I believe her.