(Another) meditation on trees.

Hi, friends!

This week I woke up in the City of Trees. There are apparently over 60,000 species of trees, and lately as I've been rewilding myself, I feel as though there may be at least as many reasons for joy.

That sounds foolish and sappy, but I feel that way in the presence of trees. Sappy.

And that wasn't even meant to be a pun. I swear 👀.

Have I ever told you the story about my first experience as a baby conservationist? I guess I'm becoming that uncle. Whatever, I'll tell you again just in case. I was something small, maybe 5 or 7, and I learned that the orange plastic belts around some of the trees in our yard were tags for their removal. Or in my young mind, a harbinger of their impending doom. I would have none of this. So I walked around and ripped the tags off, a sneaky expression of my love for the trees.

For whatever reason, I think of this all of the time. I remember my dad's confusion, but then softened humor. I remember knowing that even if they still got chopped down, I did the right thing. It is less of a sensory memory and more of an inner truth.

When I think of myself so young, naive, but also so wise about the doing, the standing up, and the speaking out, I feel hopeful. Our natural world is in a serious point of reckoning right now, we are seeing this through so many ongoing signals, including the ongoing pandemic.

My actions can have an impact: our votes do matter, even if we don't get "our way" in the end. The system can be broken — we can be displeased or angry or frustrated to have been given less than perfect choices on a ballot, but we still have to make one, the one that speaks to our innermost truth. And one of the two will be named, and life will have to go on, and we will need to work together, and be kind to one another, more than ever before. The stakes are high, but they are only going to get higher.

I also think we have to listen to each other a bit better even when it's HARD and crappy and feels arduous, especially to people whose views don't align with our own. I didn't agree with my dad that day, the day he told me the trees still had to come down, but he had good points. I don't remember what they were but I'm sure the trees were dead, and a danger. (And there are many things we may not understand based on our lived experiences...but if we cannot listen to one another and treat each other with respect, how else will we understand? This is the fine line between intuition and empathy.)

I feel hopeful hearing people waking up to the individual power of their vote. Currently, nearly 9 million people have already cast votes in the U.S. presidential election, compared to 1.1 million votes at this point in 2016 — almost 400,000 are from first-time voters. I long for a day when we can do this with our consumptive choices as well, those of us who possess the capital and the privilege to do so, rather than to gesture vaguely at a broken system and claim that is is beyond our control. I also think it's easier for us to reconnect with the natural world than we might think. This podcast has a lot of terrific thoughts.

Do you ever speak — perhaps from within — to the trees in your yard, your neighborhood, the edges of the street, or in the parks you explore near your home? I do. I still do. I still feel held by them. Hundreds of years ago, someone planted a tree here in Boise, and then when it was still too young, someone tied their horse to it. The Idaho Statesman Editor at the time in 1869, James S. Reynolds, spoke up: “The trees are entirely too young for such treatment. They are being raised at great expense and trouble. Give them a chance, and in four or five years they will be strong enough to hold horses.”

Now, I get to enjoy its presence, breathe the oxygen that it generates. Hundreds of years from now you will be dead, and I will be dead, and all of us alive today will be dead. But the trees that we planted — metaphorically speaking — will stand tall, because we stood up for them. Perhaps if that is the case, humans will still be around to enjoy them.


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Content Recommendations 📚

🎸 David Byrne Likes Reading Aloud to His Friends and I love David Byrne. // NY Times

📷 We Will Breathe, a striking photo essay with an important message, by Sheila Pree Bright in Emergence Magazine.

📖 “Our government is dictatorial but this is about more than the current regime,” she said. “This is about ordinary people who have been suffering for the last 30 years as victims of occupation and the hardships of refugee life. For us, the war never stopped.” // The Guardian

Retreat for the Spiritually Curious 🏜️

If you need something to look forward to in 2021, we have just the thing. My friend and co-host Catherine and I are leading a group of women through a 5-day retreat experience in Sedona, Arizona — and we'd love to have you with us!
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