Thursday, December 22, 2011

Falling in Love With a Tree

To begin with: just what does it mean to fall in love? 
 From my point of view it is kind of like this:
Something turns over in your heart
and 'very suddenly' you know 
that you are a little bit healthier
than you were five minutes ago.
You also know that whatever 
you have fallen in love with 
is not yours to keep in an ownership way.
It has been loaned to you briefly.
It is a gift for others as well.
How you respond to it is totally up to you!
Some will pass by without seeing it.
Some will photograph it without really seeing it.
Some will open to its blessing.
Some will carry it in their heart's memory.
Some will experience a sweet healing.
Others will have wonder restored in their lives.
Some will feast on the vision with gratitude.

On my visit to New  Zealand and Australia
I absolutely fell in love with the trees.
The tree pictured below is on Red Beach in Auckland.
It is a Pohutukawa tree and I actually can pronounce it.
At Christmas time it has bright red blossoms 
so it becomes their Christmas Tree.
I was there in the season of spring and the blossoms had not yet arrived.
The tree below is one of my photographs
but the one directly below it is from Google images.
I am trying to imagine my tree now all bright 
with its red blossoms. 

When I visited Auckland we drove into
Cornwall Park and along Pohutukawa Drive
I was offered a glimpse of so many ancestral trees
that it took my breath away~~ of course these were
very short love affairs but they are now
 loving medicinal memories.

The tree below is an Algerian Oak.
It is a semi-evergreen and loses its foliage
 for short periods during winter.
I stood, in silence, simply mesmerized by its branches.

Below you will behold my beloved Jacaranda
 with its lush purple blossoms.
Sydney and its surrounding area is where I first
laid eyes on this tree.  It is not native to Australia
and I can probably find some in California 
but this was my first sighting of a Jacaranda
and I could hardly stop staring at them.  
It was here in Sydney that I first made my proclamation:

And now I offer you the gift of this beautiful coral blossom
from a Coral tree that I met 
at Jamberoo Abbey in New South Wales.

The tree below is another tree I fell in love with.
It, too, lives in Jamberoo at the Abbey.
I was there a week with the cloistered Benedictines
and spent many moments just beholding it
and saying, "Oh, my goodness!"
It is a fig tree but not the kind that bears fruit.
It bears beauty.  It sings in silence.
It was truly my goodness--tree!

There is one more little miracle to be shared.  This is a baby Jacaranda.  One of the Sisters at Jamberoo gifted me with it.  I told her I thought it doubtful I could get it through customs. Nevertheless,  I did set out on my journey to Melbourne with the little tree in tow.  In Melbourne we discerned that since it would, most likely, not make it back to the states safely, it should remain with the one who was ultimately responsible for planting the dream-seed of my trip to Australia.  It now lives with Jen and John in Victoria, near Melbourne.  It has been named, Jacqueline.  And believe it or not, Jacqueline, the Jacaranda, now writes letters to me reporting on her spiritual and physical growth.

Do you have a tree that you love?
Spend time with it soon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Goodbye Fall ~~~ Hello Winter!

Enjoy This Last Evening of Fall.
Take a walk…

Winter Arrives Tomorrow.
{or, maybe it's today}

Well!  Not in quite so dramatic form perhaps,
but it does arrive for some of us.

Let the seasons, season you!
Enjoy the beauty of transformation
As you gaze at these two strikingly different photos
just think, for a minute, about your inner transformations.
They, too, deserve to be honored!
Thank you for changing with the seasons.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Be Not Afraid!

Here I am!  Gazing at the beautiful waters swallowing the sun the evening of November 20, 2011.  This is Port Phillips Bay (Melbourne, Australia).  Contemplating this lovely moment I recall how I kept putting off this trip to Australia because of my fear of flying over so much water, or for that matter, flying over all those hours.  Now that I have visited this land and returned to my own land, there are so many lovely moments that I carry in my treasure house of memories.  I sit on my soul's front porch and allow the memories to become icons that illuminate my prayer.  Much of my meditation these days has centered around the invitation to move through life without excessive fear.  The gospels are full of words encouraging us not to live in fear.  These words sound a bit like a commandment, at times.  Even in the Christmas gospel announcing the birth of Jesus, Luke has the angel saying to the shepherds,

"Do not be afraid: for behold I proclaim
to you news of great  joy
that will be for all the people."

I have been reading Tony Hillerman’s memoir, Seldom Disappointed and am quite moved by some of the things he shares about his mother teaching him not to be afraid.  Listen to these wise words:

“Mama’s life had taught her that youth must have its adventures, whatever the risk.   She passed that wisdom along, … and also somehow taught me that even day-dreaming has value. Her most important lesson was not be afraid of anything.   “Offer it up, Mama would say, hugging us while she said it.  When life seemed awful, cruel and unfair, Mama would remind us that it was just a brief trial we had to endure, a race we had to run, a test we had to pass as best we could.  We were born, we live a little while, then we’d die.  Then would come joy, the great adventure of Eternal Life.  So children never be afraid, never, never.  Not of spiders [avoid the black widow and she avoids you]  not of lightening [avoid standing under trees in storms] not of storm clouds [see the beauty in them, the majesty; but if you see tornado funnels, we’ll have a little picnic in the root cellar].  Not of drowning [God loves you but expects you to use common sense]  Not of snakes [they were  our allies in humanity’s war against rats and mice].

Sometimes we can’t hear the encouragement of “be not afraid.”  sometimes we have to fly over the big waters of our own life to find the joyful news that we really can take risks; we really can listen to advice and make choices.  We don’t have to do everything alone.  And we don’t have to do everything together.  We are always juggling solitude and community.  Each of these are angels of good news.

The flowers above are a gift from the sea.  They turned out to be a  symbol of great beauty for us on my last night in Melbourne.  Sister Aileen found them on the beach during her morning walk.  She didn't find them all together but at different intervals of time.  We wondered, as we enjoyed them on our last day and at our evening prayer, if we were being intrusive in someone else's life celebration.  Obviously these flowers held a story, a memory of love celebrated and shared, a beautiful mystery whose story we would never fully know.  We thanked and prayed for the original owners and brought them to our prayer.   

All this is to say that the fear in my heart has softened.  Of course it is necessary to be cautious but life is a gift to be lived.  And so, I encourage you, whoever you are, to sit on the front porch of your soul embracing your fears.  Who knows but in that embrace they may become angels of joy flying you to places you only day-dreamed about.  I, for one, am very happy about the angels who were responsible for flying me into this lovely mystical land.