The Gift of Life

Reclaiming Our Relationship

The air was ringing with cicadas and children’s laughter. I like to run around different neighborhoods in my town to check out the houses and their yards. Certain neighborhoods that have different generation feels. Houses built in the 30’s vs houses built in the 70’s. My favorite neighborhoods are the oldest ones who have let the trees grow big and strong and the houses they protect are brick. I watched a squirrel run up an acorn tree scrambling to get away from me. His little body jumping off branches making acorns rain down and crunch under my feet. My mind drifted to something I had read the night before about trees and how they support each other, and more interestingly how they have a certain type of communication that we don’t quite understand yet.

The trees give the gift of life in so many ways.

“How generously they shower us with food, literally giving themselves so that we can live. But in the giving their lives are also ensured. Our taking returns benefit to them in the circle of life making life, the chain of reciprocity. Living by the precepts of the Honorable Harvest—to take only what is given, to use it well, to be grateful for the gift, and to reciprocate the gift”

Even humans couldn’t be here with out their miraculous power to turn carbon into oxygen. This makes me want to go to my favorite big oak tree and give her a loving grateful hug. Did you ever climb the trees as a young child or make forts under their shade? Jump into a pile of their leaves in the fall throwing handfuls at whoever helped you rake them up? I did. I even had special names for my favorite ones, but then one day I stopped going to the trees, I stopped playing and climbing with them. I had better things to do and playing outside became boring as I chose friends and computer games instead.

I lost touch with nature for many years. Looking back those were the saddest years of my life. A few years back I reclaimed my relationship with them. It was a child like wonder that came over me as I started to become present with the world again. I loved watching the ice melt off the pine needles glittering in the winter sun. I brought my books out to rest along their trunks. Rollerblading on the trails looking at each tree as an individual suddenly not feeling so alone. I had this feeling that they were bearing witness to my life, watching over me, protecting me, feeding my spirit.

I was on one of those trails last fall when my mom called with the news of her cancer, the trees were there, watching and taking in some of my fear.  I looked up at them and said out loud “I know your watching, and I know you’ll always be here. I know you’ll be here when it’s too hard to bear and I know you’ll be here when it’s over.” I probably looked crazy to the birds but I didn’t feel alone. When winter came and my mom was in the most pain I’ve ever seen, I went to the trees, to the same spot where she told me she was sick. I asked them for help “I know your all connected, and we need all the help we can get. Please watch over and protect her. Gather your strength and send it to her through the ground and air.” I had so much faith in the trees. When summer came and we got the news that she was cancer free, I went to the trees again. I thanked them, and sat under them. I kneeled to the willow and kissed the maple. My heart over flowing with gratitude.

“The trees act not as individuals, but somehow as a collective. Exactly how they do this, we don’t yet know. But what we see is the power of unity. What happens to one happens to us all. We can starve together or feast together.” What an honorable lesson to take away. I have a relationship with the earth now that comes with responsibility. I’ve started to change the way I live. Recycling more, practicing patience, learning about what’s in my back yard. I plan to become a protector of this earth. I want to share information and teach other’s the lessons that she has been teaching us for thousands of years. We all have a responsibility to protect life, in all forms. What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves and our children. How, as a collective, do we mend our relationship with nature? It’s coming. There is a longing to regain this relationship and to live in harmony with the earth once again. I feel it, do you?



“Braiding Sweet Grass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

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