Are you a tree hugger? I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m one. Not only do I care very much about the environment, but I have also been known to literally hug a tree or two in my time. When I lived in Fort Lauderdale, I became very fond of a particular palm tree that stood where I ended my beach walk. After a brisk hour-long walk along the beach, her fronds provided welcome shade as I performed Donna Eden’s Daily 5-Minute Energy Routine. Afterward, I would often sit with my back against her trunk just enjoying the shade, the sea breeze, and the beautiful turquoise waves rolling in. As I sat there, I imagined tapping into her strength and flexibility. She must have plenty of both to remain standing during numerous tropical storms and hurricanes. I always felt better after spending some time with my friend, and yes, once in a while I hugged her goodbye.
Last Saturday, I gave myself the gift of attending a nature retreat at Unity of Houston led by my friend and colleague, Rev. Karen Tudor. During one of the exercises, Karen instructed us to walk the property and find a tree that we felt drawn to. Confirming that we are two of a kind, she invited us to sit with our back against its trunk and imagine connecting with the entire tree from its roots buried deep in the ground to its highest branches reaching for the sky. Once we felt deeply connected, she suggested we ask the tree if it had a message for us.
I found a tall pine tree near the bookstore that reminded me of the palm tree in Fort Lauderdale. First, I sat next to her and studied the patterns in her bark, noticing magnificent swirls that appeared only at the bottom of her trunk. Since I was wearing very light-colored khaki shorts, I decided not to sit in the dirt that surrounded her with my back against her. Instead, I removed my shoes and socks, laid in the grass in the shadow of her thin trunk, and gently placed my bare feet on her.
It felt wonderful and grounding to lay in the grass connecting the soles of my feet with her bark. I looked up at her swaying branches outlined against the bright blue sky as puffy white clouds rolled by. I noticed dozens of pine cones still clinging to her branches, not quite ready to let go. They reminded me of my mother and the Christmas wreaths she used to make with pine cones. Feeling very content and connected to the tree and my mother, I asked if she had a message for me. Specifically, I wondered if there was a message regarding my right ankle which I injured while jumping in shallow water in Michigan’s Torch Lake. The message was short, simple, and clear. “Slow down.”
That message resonated with me deeply. I’m usually hurrying across that campus to get somewhere or I’m talking with people not paying much attention to the beauty around me. Karen invited us to explore the campus in silence during each of our outings so we could be fully present. We had plenty of time to really look at the flowers, fountains, and trees that grace those sacred grounds. I ran my hands along the leaves of bushes feeling their softness. I watched bees buzzing around flower beds and squirrels climbing and leaping through tree branches. I spent time at each of the fountains, mesmerized by glistening water droplets as they shot into the air, hovered briefly catching the sunlight before being pulled back down by gravity. The whole day was magical and very restorative.
Not surprisingly, my injured ankle and the message from the tree were perfectly timed. With the Big Sky Retreat just two weeks away and all the details and emails calling for my attention, I needed that reminder. It will all get done and done more efficiently and effectively now that I have slowed down and taken time to recharge. I know the same is true for you.
This week I encourage you to be a tree hugger. Perhaps there is a park or tree that you pass by every day that is calling you. If you live in Houston, come take a leisurely stroll through the Unity campus and experience the wonder that lives there. If you can, leave your phone at home or in your bag and just be present with nature in whatever way feels right to you. I promise your busy life will be waiting for you when you return, but it will seem much more manageable when you give yourself this gift. Who knows? There might be a message waiting for you in your tree-mail.
If I can be of assistance in helping you slow down, please send me an email or visit my website. I offer a variety of Life Coaching packages to suit your needs and budget. Now is a great time to invest in yourself. The only way to experience something different is to do something different.
Until next time, happy tree-hugging!
Let me be still and listen to the truth.
Lesson 106 from A Course in Miracles