Friday, June 20, 2014

Conversations With Trees

California Oak
It is said we don't stop and smell the roses often enough. I believe we don't stop and listen to them enough, or listen to Nature.

I am not a religious man, but a spiritual one. Nature is part of my spirituality which makes Mother Earth my church. A while back I was very upset with someone and not knowing what to do, I went on a hike in my church. My local chapel is a park in the Santa Monica mountains along the southern edge of the San Fernando Valley. While hiking there along my usual trail and musing on what I should do about my anger, I passed through a grove of California oaks. Immediately upon entering the grove, the answer came to me, "Stand your ground. We do." I knew instinctively what they meant.

I now refer to the grove as the Temple of the Oaks. I have been a couple more times since.

More recently, I had been in a funk for sometime and knew what I needed to do. 

I went to Temple. 

Once there, I looked for a safe spot on the ground to sit where I could meditate and connect with the Oaks. I had to be careful because this grove grows near a creek and where there's water and oak trees, there is often that other oak, the poisonous kind and yes, it is present in my Temple. And this also being a  wilderness area, other creatures abound. 

On various hikes, I have seen coyotes, ground squirrels, a doe and Western Fence Lizards in addition to various birds; scrub jays, crows and the occasional Red-Tailed Hawk circling overhead. Signs warning of rattlesnakes are posted on the bulletin boards at the park entrances, and the nature center, though I have yet to see one in this park.

As I entered the Temple this time, I was reminded of my inner strength which I often overlook and to remain grounded in my reality, the here and the now. After all, aren't trees?

Once seated, I closed my eyes and immediately felt the presence of a rattlesnake in my lap. Okay, not the physical presence, but a spiritual one. One of my spirit guides is Snake, an anaconda to be precise. So, why a rattlesnake in this meditation? Simple, I was in his domain. Anacondas are not native to the US, let alone the Santa Monica Mountains. Rattlesnakes are. 

As Rattlesnake was slithering into my lap, I received this message, "All this pain is part of your growth, you need to shed the skin of your old self to continue growing. Come on, I'm here, let's start." As I began to envision myself slowly shedding the old me away, I heard rustling in the bushes behind me. Coming out of the meditation, I turned, saw nothing, and decided I would meditate further with Rattlesnake at home, not necessarily because it was safer, but because the trance had been broken. 

Broken Concrete
I decided to continue walking in the park, into areas I had recently begun to explore, as I usually went to one or two particular spots to meditate, and I had brought my camera and wanted to take some photographs. While walking along a trail, I saw a pile of broken concrete reminding me of some bizarre landscape; a foreign desert or a strange distant world. The impression it left on me was that anything human-made could be broken. 

I immediately connected to my fears. My fears can be broken. They are human-made, are they not? Did I not make them?

I continued on, and eventually came upon a solitary picnic table under a tall evergreen tree. 

"Please come sit a while."

I did.

"Thank you for sitting."

"Thank you for inviting me. May I take your picture?"

"Yes. But I look much better in color, not black and white."


"Why are you in such a hurry to meet someone?"

"I'm not."

"Oh, really?" (I didn't realize trees could be sarcastic.) "Did you not think the two gentlemen you glimpsed along the trails might be someone coming into your life? The one that later had a family with him and the one with the two dogs?"

Guiltily, I answered, "Yes. But I believe I'll meet him through some chance encounter. Some friends have agreed with me."

"Perhaps you will. But, your friends have done you a disservice, not because they agree with you, or that they share their love and thoughts for you; they do have your best interests at heart. But because you then focus on what they have said. Focus on knowing and being yourself, not on what they say."

"I understand."

"And there's more to your hurry, isn't there?"

"Yes. I'm not getting any younger. And I am tired of being alone. Four years is a long time."

"Time and age are irrelevant. I did not get this tall overnight. There is nothing wrong with being alone. But, first you must learn to enjoy being alone, unless you don't want to learn the lesson from your past. Did you not feel alone within your last relationship? Did you not settle for less than what you deserve? Again, I say time is irrelevant."

"I understand."

"Please be patient. Remember Rattlesnake's message, 'Shed the old.' And what did the Oaks tell you before?"

"To stand my ground?"

"No, the other message."

"He is coming?"

"Indeed he is."

I sighed. "Thank you. May I ask one last question?"


"May I take one picture in black and white? I love the texture of your trunk. I think it would make a great shot."

"Yes. Go ahead." (I could swear he giggled.)

"Thank you for everything." And I placed my hand gratefully on his trunk.

"Thank you for listening, please come back. And call on me when you need to."

I will.

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