“My great grandfather told me this long ago and I never forgot it: trees are the keepers of secrets. The Creator gave them this honor because they are infinitely patient and trustworthy. So if you have a burden on your heart, something that has bothered you for a long time, something you wish you could finally let go, then take it to the tree. You will know the right one when you see it. It will be an old tree with many branches. Go stand beneath it and tell your story. Then when you walk away what you have said will stay there, in the safe-keeping of the old tree, and you will be burdened by it no more.” Bishop Steven Charleston, Facebook page, September 1, 2018
My grandfather and my father introduced me as well to the spirituality of trees. My grandfather took me on nature weeks each week along the Mattaponi River and its marshlands on his farm. My father was a forester and planted millions of trees. I still grieve to see trees cut down. I often like to imagine what secrets old trees have as I briefly touch them passing by them on visits to others and their homes and businesses.
All of my children spend much more time outdoors than I do. I don’t remember teaching them this. Maybe in some way possibly through genetics my grandfather whom they never knew and my father whom they barely knew taught them. This may not be true, but I will still treasure this in my imagination.
I do know that we meet God in the outdoors so much easier than in most indoor places. Sitting and standing by trees changes the tension in our bodies. Our minds slow down to a slightly lower speed. We are grounded to the earth. We begin to live in the present moment, and we meet the God of our understanding in that present moment. We do not obsess about the past. We may remember our mistakes, but have the desire to move on, trying to learn from them. We surrender to the moment and for a few seconds stop worrying about the future. For a brief moment we become the person God created us to be.
We know from biology class that trees save our lives by changing our carbon dioxide waste into life giving oxygen for us to breathe again. Trees also save our lives mentally and spiritually by being a constant reminder of a God who has provided for us beauty beyond our imagination.
Outside my window is a canopy of trees that have become like old friends. The sun is almost up. I will wait until sunrise and look out so I can see them in all their glory before beginning this day.
I give thanks for all who have led me outdoors to the trees. Perhaps I can do the same today for someone else.