The Umbrella Tree

One of my best friends, when I was growing up, was an Umbrella tree. It’s leaves were large and spread into a green canopy on the top of a trunk that was like a giant lap. I could sit in it for hours and let my imagination go wild. But mostly I watched and listened. I watched the play of light on the leaves and branches, I watched the little ants that crawled in determined lines up and down the trunk. I listened to the rustle and whisper of the wind weaving in and out and through. I used to sing there too. It was my favorite thing to do.

I have a very personal and heart-felt connection to trees. I had my first spiritual awakening, as it is called, in that Umbrella tree; it was where I first became keenly aware that there was a benevolent force, bigger than everything that for some crazy reason, loved me. I knew it as surly as my next breath. I didn’t have words for the experience until years later when I wrote about it.

Listen, God is singing through the Elms, first as thunder, then as wind, then as trembling leaves and limb.

(I know I meantioned Elms instead of Umbrella tree in the poem; most of the trees around my house were Elm, and I felt connected to them all.)

The tree of life, as a symbol, appears in cultures all over the world. They are vital to our survival. Without trees we would not breathe clean air. Trees revitaize us and refresh our spirit.

The more we learn about trees the more they reveal how intricately they are all connected to each other and to the whole environment, including us.

They serve as a reminder that as people we are connected to one another and that each person is essential to the vitality of the whole. They remind us that we need strong, well nourished roots and that we need to stretch beyond ourselves to reach our highest potential. And they remind us that we are part of one glorious song that is being played out through the lives of every single one of us.

We listen, stretch, learn, grow and our own health is of benefit to those around us. And like trees, we support one another when one of us needs extra care. (It has been discovered that healthy trees will send vital nutrients through a fungal system to a tree that is injured or sick.)

Trees are a celebration of the life force coursing through them. We can be that too.

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