Saturday, October 13, 2012

Talking to the Trees: Resting in Motion

(This is the second essay from my collection. To read the first one, click here.)

Leaning against the Mother Birch Tree, I rest in the curve of her trunk with my eyes closed, I listen. I don’t know if I’ll hear anything at all. The trees I visit all have incredible energy, knowledge and wisdom but how and when they share this with me is up to them. All I can ever do is be there, be open and listen.

Today, the sun is shining and there’s a crispness in the air signaling the change of seasons is coming. I love summer. The blooming flowers, ripe fruit, lush greenery makes me feel safe in an abundant universe. When the crispness starts to creep into the summer mornings, I feel melancholy. I don’t want to see the leaves fall off the trees, the flowers fade and the greenery die back. I know the cycle of the seasons is important for all life. I know the flowers will bloom again. I just feel a sense of ending and I don’t like endings.

I want my life to keep going and growing and blooming. I want a cycle of spring and summer without the loss of fall and the emptiness of winter. I want to be reborn again and again without the darkness and unknown of the womb. What I really want is to not be afraid, again, ever.

But that’s not how life works, is it? Growth leads to blooming, yes, but without harvesting we would never smell the sweetness of the flowers or taste the juices of the fruit. And in order to harvest, fruit must fall from the trees, leaves swirl down to compost below the frost in the winter to enrich the roots of the trees so they can, once again, blossom and bear fruit. It’s a never ending cycle or beginnings and endings, so why can’t I take comfort in that knowledge? Why ever year do I fight against the natural flow? Why don’t I welcome the changes and enjoy the harvest and feel safe in the bounty I have through the winter? Why am I so afraid?

We live in a culture that insists on its own cycle, one that is up, up, up and never down. We must live, live strong, live fast, live better. But the fact is we do die. We all have weaknesses. And many of us, myself included, live fast wishing to create the space for us to slow down and relax. Being able to relax and take a vacation is what most of us see as a better life. Interesting.

Today, with all this circling around in my head like leaves blown by an autumn wind, I lean against the Lake Mother Birch Tree and listen for her wisdom. How can I embrace this new season, these changes and live comfortably with the endings and still move on in my life? Her answer is simple and clear, “Rest in motion.” I can feel my face scrunching up as I puzzle this out in my head, while my body relaxes into the wisdom of the words without question. “How is it possible to move ahead and rest at the same time?” I feel the tree smile and hear, “What do you think I do when my leaves have fallen and the ground is frozen? I rest, yes. But at the same time, my roots are moving in search of water, my seeds are settling under the dense leaf mulch and old limbs that are no longer needed are breaking off.”

Once again, I see the tree wisdom but how does it apply to my life? In my mind, I’m not sure that this would work at all. After all, if you don’t push, you don’t get what you want, right? But my body, knows differently. I have pushed and pushed and pushed in the last few years and yes, I’ve made progress. But lately, that approach isn’t working for me. And although my mind continues its endless whirling motion, my body wants to rest. My heart wants to dream and take in the changing season and create.

Resting in motion, yes, I can do that. I can rest on the bank of the lake and watch the geese practice their fall flight patterns. I can move through the woods with my dog and let myself see the beauty at the edges of the crinkled leaves and seed pods. Instead of frantically working out of fear of the future and running away from the changing seasons, I can to be in the change, right here and now. I can learn to rest in motion.

(This is an art mask I sculpted, inspired by Mother Birch)


Patrick Gracewood said...

Susan, lovely post. Resting in Motion is a keeper. So is your lovely GreenMan Mask.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Mike Turner said...

I started these tree essays because I just had to write them. I would take my walk in the woods, lean and listen, then come home and transcribe what I'd heard. I so glad that it resonates with you.

And as is usual for me, my art follows my connection with nature. Again, so pleased you like my porcelain mask.

Thanks so much!