Friday, June 24, 2011

Still Listening

You may remember a few posts ago I wrote about my listening tree, the tree with ears that I discovered on our monastery grounds. It became one of my sacred sites and when I could find the time I went there to listen. Sadly, two days after I shared 'my listening tree' with you the storms came with their raging winds and fierce lightning and split my dear tree wide open. I was away from home and one of our Sisters e-mailed me with this dreadful message.

Is it right, I thought, for me to be mourning a tree when people have lost lives and homes? Yes, when you've loved something and named it, it is yours in a special way. All mourning is to be honored.

A friend shared with me this poem by Charles Mungoshi. In a way it a ritual for mourning. A ritual for surrendering and receiving again. It tells me what to do--


Take out all your belongings--

Furniture, clothes, crockery--

All you have since held dear

Take them all out

And return them to the forest.

Now, bring in the sky

The mountains, distant views

Of anything, the rivers, trees,

Boulders; the animals, birds

And insects--

Set them loose in your room.


Kneel down anywhere

And give thanks.

-Charles Mungoshi

from The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk

Baobab Books, Harare, 1998

And so I kneel before the remains of my tree giving thanks for everything and I wonder: In spite of its very wounded state, is it still listening.



  1. Macrina,
    I am so sad for you, to hear about your Listening Tree. I too loved that tree from afar, since I read your blog post. I have been looking for Listening trees ever since and have taught my children to do so as well, in nature and in people. I do not think I will share with them that the Listening Tree is gone. They are young, and I don't want to disappoint them. I hope you find another one soon.

  2. Thinking of you and the wisdom you shared from experiencing the tree's place in your life and your writing.

  3. Macrina, I am sure somehow that your listening tree still listens as much as ever. It being a stump reminds me of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree.
    It looks now like you can even sit on it...

    Kneel down anywhere and give thanks.
    Oh, yes.

    Thank you for the post and the poem.

  4. This made me so sad to read... And youre right; all mourning is to be honored. I'll think of your beloved tree during meditation tomorrow...

  5. Yes, I believe your tree is still listening, still giving to you. When my children were young we read Silverstein's book, "The Giving Tree, many times. As the story goes a boy comes to the tree throughout his lifetime and the tree gives what it can to the boy. As the boy grew into a man and also old age, he returned again to the tree but the tree told him that he had nothing left to give the man, only a tree stump was left. So, the boy/man sat on the stump and was happy.

  6. I'm sure that your tree is still listening, and because of its wounded state, I am sure it listens more deeply than it ever did before.

  7. Dear Sr. Marcrina: You and I have not seen each other in years. But oh, how connected we remain. Yet again another parallel in our lives. Let me tell you about my tree, Jeanne Eagle's tree. Hurricane Ike damaged her, but she remains standing, a treasure I praise God for each day. In 2006, my sister Jeanne was diagnosed with brain cancer. I was devastated and in my grief I turned to our meadow for prayer, strength and courage. A very large oak called to me each day and there I went to tell her all my troubles. One day very soon after Jeanne's diagnosis, my tree was struck by lightning and all the neighbors told us she would die quickly. I went to the tree and asked her to please live for Jeanne, for as long as the tree lived, I knew Jeanne would live as well. My sister was given an Indian name at her marriage 25 years earlier of Eagle because she was a very strong woman. She carried Jeanne Eagle throughout her life, so I named my tree Jeanne Eagle's tree. Jeanne Eagle died in January 2007, but the tree lived on and is still living despite hurricanes and horrible spring storms. Jeanne Eagle still lives as well with God and the heavenlies, watching over me each each day. How blessed I am to have her right here in the meadow. I am so very sorry you lost your tree, but she is still there and she can still comfort you. Honor her and remember how honored we are by nature, the smiles and giggles at new flowers and leaves each spring and also by the waiting time of winter. Thanks for all you do. God bless and keep you and may His face shine upon you, my dear Macrina.

  8. Macrina

    All trees listen. All trees speak to us.

    I have been waiting...waiting ...waiting for your book, Abide in Me. Will it be out soon? I need the gift of your words to fill my mind and soul.