Tree Meditations

For Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12, 2021

Scripture, various author quotes, my meditation questions

Psalm 1: 1-3

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,

or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers,

but their delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on God’s law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees planted by steams of water,

Which yield their fruit in its season,

And their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do, they prosper.

Quotes from FINDING THE MOTHER TREE, by Suzanne Simard

“The old trees were the mothers of the forest.

The hubs were Mother Trees

Yes that’s it. Mother Trees. Mother Trees connect the forest.

          This Mother Tree was the central hub that the saplings and seedlings nested around, with threads of different fungal species, of different colors and weights, linking them, layer upon layer, in a strong, complex web.  I pulled out a pencil and notebook.  I made a map: Mother Trees, saplings, seedlings.  Lines sketched between them.  Emerging from my drawing was a pattern like a neural network, like the neurons in our brains, with some nodes more highly linked than others.

Holy Smokes.” (p. 228)

          “What the trees were conveying made sense.  Over millions of years, they’d evolved for survival, built relationships with their mutualists and competitors, and they were integrated with their partners in one system.  The firs had sent warning signals that the forest was in danger [from budworms], and the pines had been poised, eavesdropping for clues, wired to receive the messages, ensuring the community remained whole, still a healthy place to rear their offspring.”  (p. 254)

“Mother trees somehow enhanced the health of their kin.  And not only their kin, but of strangers too, and other species, promoting the diversity of the community.” (p.286)

“The Mother-Tree seedlings flooded the network with their carbon energy, and it advanced into the needles of her kin, her sustenance soon within them.  The data also showed that injury, whether by western spruce budworm or the shears, induced the Mother-Tree seedlings to transfer even more carbon to her kin.  Facing an uncertain future, she was passing her life force straight to her offspring, helping them to prepare for changes ahead.

          Dying enabled the living; the aged fueled their young.

          I imagined the flow of energy from the Mother Trees as powerful as the ocean tide, as strong as the sun’s rays, as irrepressible as the wind in the mountains, as unstoppable as a mother protecting her child.” (p.287)

          “I believe this kind of transformative thinking is what will save us.  It is a philosophy of treating the world’s creatures, its gifts, as of equal importance to us.  This begins by recognizing that tree and plants have agency.  They perceive, relate, and communicate; they exercise various qualities we normally ascribe to sentience, wisdom, intelligence.  By noting how trees, animals, and even fungi – any and all nonhuman species – have this agency, we can acknowledge that they deserve as much regard as we accord ourselves.  We can continue pushing our earth out of balance, with greenhouse gases accelerating each year, or we can regain balance by acknowledging that if we harm one species, one forest, one lake, this ripples through the entire complex web.  Mistreatment of one species is mistreatment of all.  The rest of the planet has been waiting patiently for us to figure that out.” (p.294)

          “Trees need to be near one another, to establish in receptive soil, to join together to build the ecosystem, mix with other species, relate in patterns that produce a wood-wide web, because the forest becomes resilient from this complexity. Scientists now are more willing to say that forests are complex adaptive systems, comprised of many species that adjust and learn, that include legacies such as old trees and seed banks and logs, and these parts interact in intricate dynamic networks, with information feedbacks and self-organization.  The properties of an ecosystem breathe with health, productivity, beauty, spirit.  Clean air, clean water, fertile soil.  The forest is wired for healing in this way, and we can help if we follow her lead.” (p. 300)

          “The wind whipped through the needles of the Mother Tree, but she stood steadfast.  She had seen nature in countless forms: hot summer days when mosquitoes swarmed; rain that came in sheets for weeks; snow so heavy some of her branches snapped; periods of drought followed by long damp spells…  She would be here for a hundred more years, guiding the recovery, giving it her all, long after I was gone.  Farewell, dear Mama.  Tired, I fumbled to do up my vest.  My [grown daughter] Hannah slung her heavy pack over her shoulders, adjusting the load and cinching the buckles barely noticing the weight.

          She took my shovel to lighten my burden and gripped my hand to lead us back home.” (p. 303)


When I Am Among the Trees

When I among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

    but walk slowly and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.

       Mary Oliver, Thirst

(How and where could we be simple, and go easy, and let our light shine?)

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.

~ Anonymous

(Let us imagine ourselves in the forest, existing with the trees, or perhaps BEING a tree, being still and listening to God’s music.)

As we breathe out what trees breathe in,
And the trees breathe out what we breathe in,
So we breathe each other into life, We and You.

~ by Marcia Prager

(Imagine that our breath flows into the trees surrounding us, and the trees give back their breath to us.  Imagine that we also give life to each other, nearby friends, those at a distant, loved ones, and co-workers – we give God’s love as we live and breathe together.  Where have you felt that kind of giving and receiving love?)

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me . . .

The strength of fire,

the freshness of morning,

the taste of salmon,

the trail of the sun,

and the life that never goes away,

they speak of me.

And my heart soars.

~ Chief Dan George

(Just let your heart soar, imagining yourself surrounded by nature and by God’s unfailing, always-pouring-out love.)

Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature are witnesses of your thoughts and deeds.

~ A Winnebago Wise Saying

(Imagine the earth as our Mother.  Imagine God as our Mother, as the Birther of all that exists, all creatures and things, even stones.  Imagine being held in love by that Mother God.)

The rooting (of trees, of our selves) is as important and as necessary as the rising. We have the opportunity to sink roots into soul and rise up with branches in heaven…

Our spiritual growth is meant to go in both directions, toward the fertile darkness and the glorious light, each of us having the opportunity to bridge earth and heaven—the underworld and the upperworld—through the trunks of our middleworld lives….

There’s no conflict between spirit-centered being and soulful doing, between transcendence and inscendence. Each supports and enhances the other. Like Rilke, we discover we can have both:

You see, I want a lot
Maybe I want it all;
The darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.

~ from SOULCRAFT by Bill Plotkin

(Imagine drawing strength from deep within yourself, from deep within the earth, even from times of darkness and troubles.  Imagine finding strength from such times and from the earth.  Then imagine yourself rising, like a tree, stretching your branches, your life, your loves and passions, toward heaven.)

Consider the life of trees.

Aside from the axe, what trees acquire from [humans] is inconsiderable. What

[humans] acquire from trees is immeasurable. From their mute forms there flows a

poise, a silence, a lovely sound and motion in response to wind. What peace comes to

those aware of the voice and bearing of trees! Trees do not scream for attention. A

tree, a rock, has no pretense, only a real growth out of itself, a close communion

with the universal spirit. A tree retains a deep serenity. It establishes in the

earth not only its root system but also those roots of its beauty and its unknown

consciousness. Sometimes one may a sense a glisten of that consciousness, and with

such perspective may feel that [humanity] is not the highest form of life.

—Cedric Wright

(Consider that the oldest, biggest trees- the Mother Trees- not only give humans physical things (oxygen) but spiritual things (peace, beauty) along with sending communications – water, nutrients, ways to upgrade RNA – to kin and non-kin trees.  Can we honor trees as sentient beings? Can we copy their selfless giving?)

I lie down and sob and… very gradually it happens. The life in the trees and grass and the warm rocks enters my body and joins me to them. One morning, I sit up and see the incandescent trees in silent communion with each other, immersed in love. This is the world, I think, the real world. Whatever happens to me, the world is still this luminous mystery.

~ from THE SUBTLE SELF by Judith Blackstone

(Think on times of difficulty, of feeling unloved or empty.  Then let Nature surround you in imagination.  Imagine being fed and strengthened, loved and filled by the earth and by the Divine One.)

Blessed are the men and women
    who are planted on Your earth in Your garden,
Who grow as Your trees and flowers grow,
    who transform their darkness to light.
Their roots plunge into darkness;
    their faces turn toward the light.
All those who love You are beautiful;
    they overflow with Your presence
    so that they can do nothing but good.
There is infinite space in Your garden;
    all men, all women are welcome here;
    all they need do is enter.

~ from THE ENLIGHTENED HEART by Stephen Mitchell

Feel welcomed, just as you are -with your loves, hopes, desires, and longings – by Mother Earth and Mother God.)

What I wear is my clothes.
What I do is live.
How I pray is breathe…
Up here in the woods is seen the Word.
That is to say, the wind comes through
the trees and you breathe it.

~ from DAY OF A STRANGER by Thomas Merton

(Imagine the wind as God’s breath, strengthening and surrounding you.)

A circle of trees . . . I felt I was bringing the journey home to the ordinary dimensions of my life, rooting it in the place I lived every day.  I lay back on the earth and looked up through the branches of an oak, feeling suddenly like the sun was my own heart pulsing up there with light.  Wind swirled, and it seemed to me it was my own breath billowing through the branches.  The crocus bulbs were buried in my tissue, the cedars growing from my body.  The birds flew inside me.  Stones sat along my bones . . . a jubilant, stunning loss of boundary, a deeper sense of oneness than I’d ever felt.

I knew that I was part of one vast, universal quilt; I knew that this quilt was itself, the Holy Thing, the manifestation of the Divine One.  And I loved this universal quilt, every stitch, color, and fiber, with a heartbreaking love.  It was one clear moment in time, like going to the Deep Ground that underlies all things and seeing, really seeing, what is and being pierced by the unbounded nature of it.


(Feel that you are a part of one great Unity, of all that is, all that exits, and will be, always held in Divine Love.)

The peace in the sky, the peace in mid-air,
the peace on the earth, the peace in the waters,
the peace in the plants, the peace in the forest trees,
the peace in the angels, the peace in the Beloved,
the peace in all things
the peace in peace …
May that peace come to me!

~ from EVERY EYE BEHOLDS YOU, edited by Thomas J Craughwell

(Spend just a few moments in silence, letting the peace from God and nature seep in and fill you.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s