It is Arbor Day, and my little family celebrated the way many similar little families did in similar little towns, by attending a celebration in the town square. There was a high school ensemble playing, kids (including mine) in the fountain, and later, an oak tree was planted. All in all, it made for a lovely morning. But for all the farmers' market stalls and information booths about tree care, I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. Where were the trees?
No, not just the oak we planted; though that event was sweet enough, with little kids gathered around its slender base, shoveling dirt about it as only little kids and their glittery, super-hero-cape-wearing selves can. I'm talking about really noticing, really being with the trees. So I took a moment to do just that: down I sat in a nook created by sturdy roots digging down into packed earth. The roots were quite solid, but something in the tree yeilded as I sat, as natural as you please (the way my kid does it-- I've been watching, and taking notes). The solid sense disappeared and it felt more akin to cuddling up in my husband's strong arms.
As fate would have it, this very week I began reading a book that I've long been meaning to begin reading: Stephen Harrod Buhner's The Secret Teachings of Plants. The title has long grabbed my interest, especially as I long to dive more deeply into understanding plant spirit medicine (...more on that in a later post) and herbalism. The cover has also long grabbed my attention, and I've been so eager to enter its mysteries--both into what is pictured, and what is behind the photo. But it was not until this week, just a couple of mornings ago in fact, that my heart had a crisis that woke me early enough to see the sun rise; and while that beauty was happening, my mind would not rest, and neither would the tears; and so out of bed I popped, uncertain what would happen next.
What happened next was I finally picked up this book and began to dig into its mysteries, one tender, leafy page at a time. I feel like it has altered my life in a significant way...as though I have heard a familiar tune that has got my heart humming again.
All ancient and indigenous peoples said that they learned the uses of plants as medicines from the plants themselves. They insisted that they did not rely on the analytical capacities of the brain for this nor use the technique of trial and error. Instead, they said that it was from the heart of the world, from the plants themselves, that this knowledge came. For, they insisted, the plants can speak to human beings if only human beings will listen and respond to them in the proper state of mind.
...They learned about the world not from the ability of their minds to work as analytical, organic computers, but from their hearts as organs of perception.
The heart...as an organ of perception. Suddenly on reading those words, my heart opened much like the gorgeous flower on the cover of this book, and I felt an old energy flowing out of me like I have not felt for years and years and years.
And though I had been taught in school that the wildness of the world was cold and uncaring, unfeeling, and ruled by tooth and claw, I did not find it so. It gave me all that I had ever wanted to have and began to teach me a truth that I had not learned in school, a truth plain in its every line, and movement, and turning. For nature does not know how to lie.
I remember once having a conversation with a sunflower that really just, well, blew my mind. It was a short conversation-- for once I realized what was happening (about one sentence in...), I walked out the door. (And she didn't speak a word to me when I returned, either. What was I thinking? Rude!) But...it wasn't regular sentences, not like these which I am writing to you now, reader. It was...something else entirely, but it made absolute sense, and up until the moment my fear surfaced, it was the most natural, normal thing in the whole wide world.
So today, dear friend, I simply sat in the lap of that tree, and we didn't say a word, but we enjoyed each others' company tremendously.