One day, back in the early ’70s, Mom asked me why I no longer go to church. “Nature is my church,” I responded, instantly. “Oh, I’ve heard that one before,” she wisecracked.
My family was Catholic. Nature was not part of our culture, beyond the rare family picnic in a park.
This morning on our walk, puppy Shadow and I were astounded to be greeted with the hushed presence of the two large, mature gingko trees on the Indiana University campus raining down golden leaves. The lawn was already a carpet of gold, and the trees kept raining more down. I felt both stunned and honored to be present at such a great ceremony, one which, obviously, from what was happening, occurs only once a year, and all at once.
I was so wishing I had brought my phone with me to at least take a photo!
The gingko is native to China; here’s one, raining . . .
Digging further, I was stunned to discover that gingko is the world’s oldest tree, dating back 200 million years, to the Age of the Dinosaurs. Furthermore, it is a single species, with no living relatives.
I was unusually grateful to have been serendipitously present for this beautiful natural ceremony, and noted that it occurred just after I had decided to actually venture out of here, tomorrow night, for really, the first time since the plandemic, to sit in the IU Fine Arts Theater for the movie, The Hidden Life of Trees.
And, to add to that synchronicity, here’s another one: for the last few weeks, on my daily walks, I have found myself singing “The falling leaves, drift past the window . . .” the lyrics of which, I had actually remembered, in their entirety.
Like anyone who spends time alone in forests, I have long felt the intensely serene atmosphere generated by trees. And like many people, there are times when I reverently hug a tree, or stand with my spine against it, or sit at its feet, to help ground and calm myself when in need. And always, always, I’m so very grateful to trees for their powerful, steady persistence, simultaneously rooting into the ground and reaching for the sun, day by day, year by year, decade by decade, and for some, like the ancient gingko, century after century and even way beyond — vibrating their strong, subtle harmonic into the air which we humans then breathe in, and, if we are very very fortunate, then make our own, if but for a single moment!
In my daily practices — yoga, chikung, taichi — I aim to internalize the tree’s extraordinary capacity to link Above to Below, via their strong, straight trunks. Like a vertical tree, I draw energy up from the sacred earth and down from the holy heavens, circulating this strong intense loving energy through my all-too-human heart to radiate out, in all directions horizontally, a blessing.
It’s my way of giving back.
So you can just imagine how deeply grateful I felt to be admitted into their more shining world during our communion this morning under the ceremony of the golden rain.
I’ll end with this photo, taken a few days ago unbeknownst to me by a friend, of Shadow and me walking through a wonderful treed arch towards the light.