Bowing Trees

A small fortune of my time is spent watching the bowing of trees against the wind. Many trees together are a great lesson in community and benevolence. The tallest and widest trees are best suited to take on the most powerful gusts of wind. Shorter, slimmer and younger trees are protected as they grow and learn to yield to their environment. These wooded communities also protect many species. Indeed, intricate patterns of mayhem exist at any given time within the folds of a community of trees. Yet, there is an invisible web of connectedness and understanding between all of nature’s participants.

Before the end of winter, I am gifted time to walk on the bare cold earth of the small wooded areas that surround human interference. It is like the early morning hours before anyone in the house has stirred. Sometimes the sun has not yet risen, but there is this feeling of expectation. Opportunity to walk in a wooded area around this time of year allows me to experience an open stillness that is participated in by all of nature. I always feel welcomed within the community, though I’m not a daily participant. This inclusion seems wise and a natural condition.

Early signs of spring are not overly apparent. These cues are before the seed has escaped its pod and before the nest is built or the hole dug. One can see the nodes and internodes before the new growth. One can smell the notion of spring, a slight warmth enveloping the air and the ground is still moist from the heavy rain or melted snow of the winter season. One might only notice small signs, but the community knows there is adventure ahead, and it is taking inventory, readying its stores, and steeling its spirit for the coming new life.

In our society of humans, we rarely practice the lessons of community found in nature, and even less so those lessons of benevolence or inclusion. As we learn to accept a new reality of being, the newness is fraught with anxiety and angst. Many openly exclaim the desire to return to the ways of the past, ignoring nature’s basic lesson that those of us that do not bend, find ourselves broken.

These feelings of anxiety and angst do not come about in a vacuum. They have been carefully cultivated by a broken society. Sometimes there is no taller, wider, or stronger human to help stave off the stronger gusts of wind. Sometimes the taller, wider, or stronger human has not taken the needed time to care for their roots and the roots are weak and lack the humility, empathy, and integrity needed to weather the storm. Indeed, some of our taller, stronger and wider humans have been found to be great pretenders and existing on stilts, born from the blood of younger or weaker humans.

Even when faced with this level of moral depravity, our society of humans continues to find themselves unready to see the lessons of nature. The stillness practiced by the woods inhabitants at the end of winter is the moment of silence needed to prepare themselves for the difficulties found in any new season. Our society of humans has not taken stock of our winter. We have not steeled ourselves for the coming season. We have ‘so-called’ leaders that lack the integrity and moral strength to practice wisdom in action. Instead of benevolence, selfishness and hoarding are practiced. This is not to say there are no random acts of kindness, small groups of persons willing to give freely, without praise or honor, their time and compassion. Rather, this depravity exists in the confines of societies most celebrated institutions and is accepted as a norm and not the exception. That this depravity is held up as a beacon of success for our children undermines any attempt to properly prepare future elders that respect the eternal wisdom found in nature. These selfish acts are clearly visible in this current crisis, but these acts have existed in our society for some time now. Even those of us who truly want to embrace an inclusive society, one that honors the contribution of all members, may be tired and dispirited. Yet, all is not lost.

Our human society is unprepared as we embark on this new season. Despite our unpreparedness, nature teaches that it is never too late to begin to think, speak, and act with wisdom. While we will suffer the cost of our follies, we must embrace the truth of our existence. This is the only way forward. We have squandered resources meant to nourish others. We have paid hommage to things that don’t nourish our growth as an individual or a society.

In nature, I have never seen one tree bow down before another tree. The tree will bend with the wind, and act in concert with their fellow trees. But I have yet to hear the pine tree admit that the poplar tree is better in all things. Each tree has its own strength and bears what it must to assist in maintaining the community of trees. We must stop bowing down before our “so-called” human leaders. No one person can sustain a community, and no one person is a savior. This is the truth of our existence. We are interconnected beings that can only exist because the other exists. If we accept this truth, then it is easy to share food with your neighbor or as our nation would have it, not horde toilet paper in the basement. We must submit to the natural world, or we will find ourselves broken.

Real change is born from the humility of submission to the natural world and values a community which requires us to accept our responsibility to act in concert with one another. We must attend to our roots and value a society built on integrity, compassion and ultimately wisdom. We each must practice right thought, because what you think will become what you say, and what you say will become how you act. This is the lesson of the trees bowing in the wind. They do so with strong roots and in concert with their fellow tree. This new season, all is not lost. This new season is an opportunity to discard the old ways in which we destroyed nature. We are able to embrace the lessons found in the natural world, and learn to live on this earth as an active participant. Let us all learn to bow with the trees in concert against the blowing winds of time.