The beauty of nature dazzles us all– from ascetic monk to atheist. Nature offers us a kind of spiritual common ground. We can debate theory and personalize practice, but we can’t deny the awesome sensory display that is proof of an awesome force. It’s seen in the ocean, felt in a breeze and heard in a thunderstorm. These wonders, too epic to collectively comprehend, can be noticed and appreciated, one by one.
Although flowers are delightful, water is mesmerizing, animals are alluring and minerals intriguing, let’s keep it simple for now and trip on the wonder of trees. Consider: What do trees mean to you? How do they enhance your life? What might they teach you? How do you relate?
Take any tree and consider its unique contribution. One of my favorites is the aspen tree, with its creamy white bark and two-toned, heart-shaped leaves. When I’m fortunate to catch sight of one, I have to stop and contemplate how something so gorgeous exists. If you’ve ever been to elegant Aspen, Colorado, perhaps you can appreciate how those sparkling, delicate leaves aptly resemble the shimmering sequins on a socialite’s gown. This tree is all about beauty, baby. Not unlike those glamorous ski bunnies that decorate the slopes.
Maybe you favor eye-candy with a distinctly masculine flavor? How about the towering redwood, the tallest tree on Earth, potentially reaching up to a height of more than 375 vertical feet? As seen from below, its deep auburn trunk soars relentlessly upward through the sky. Ever been to Muir Woods? Mind blowing, right? Redwoods are humbling and inspiring testaments to the limitless possibilities of life and the expansiveness of the ineffable realm. Strong and majestic, they’re like the stallions of the plant kingdom.
In contrast to the handsome, stately redwood, what about the fanciful cherry blossom tree? Resembling something dreamed up by Dr. Seuss, its fluffy, powder pink flowers cluster together like a big yummy puff of cotton candy. Ever seen how they decorate the likes of serious Washington, D.C., with playful childlike whimsy? Just when things turn dire, a cheerful cherry blossom tree graces the path as if to say, “Lighten up and live in the magic, Sillypants.”
Since it’s that time of year, let’s not overlook the powerful pine tree, which holds billowing piles of glowing snow safely in the grasp of its aromatic needles. (Not to mention ornaments, tinsel and lights for those who skew Christian.) Snow days wouldn’t be the same without the white blanket of a landscape afforded us by pines. Don’t you just want to shake those branches and let that snow fall loose on the unsuspecting head of a companion?
And to get personal, I’m currently in an intimate relationship with two different trees. One is a ginormous laurel tree, off a nearby path. Its sun-seeking trunk skyrockets to the heavens, inspiring me to connect ever more closely with my source. The unapologetically far-reaching width of its branches models the mandate to be the fullest expression of oneself. Its deep roots remind me to stay firmly anchored in my true, inspired self. And the mere sight of it in all its awesome glory offers reassuring evidence of the divine embodied.
My other ongoing love affair is with the sycamore tree in my backyard. No matter the season, its leaves pop out in vibrant hues (currently fiery gold and red) against the blue sky like an electrifying wake up call. It always brings me back to my center and my source. Even a quick glimpse of it ignites the inner spark. For me, it’s a spiritual slam dunk.
As much as trees do for us, they ask for nothing in return. It’s kind of an ideal relationship. So fulfilling, yet so one-sided. All we have to do is be dazzled. Are you with me?