The Tree Ceremony

September 27, 2013




“Sometimes you’re the dog. Sometimes the tree.”


Trees have always been taken for granted, while dogs that howl and growl are celebrated, perhaps rightly so. One of many, often seemingly unremarkable, literally “wooden”, there’s a belief that trees will always be there and an indifference if they’re not.


Until they’re gone.


When great trees fall,

rocks on distant hills shudder,

lions hunker down

in tall grasses,

and even elephants

lumber after safety.


When great trees fall

in forests,

small things recoil into silence,

their senses

eroded beyond fear.

-Maya Angelou


Sometimes trees, like all things, fall, whether hit by lightning, crashed into by another, or succumbing to the mange of old age. Then we feel their absence where we once missed their presence.


So as we plant a new tree to commemorate another, don’t merely take in this event as high symbolism. Make it literal, practical, physical. When lost in the memory of the one that’s gone and feeling this grey malaise will be ceaseless and unchanging forever, look at this green tree. See how its base grows bigger, its canopy wider, its leaves more numerous and brilliant with the years.


As the years go on think, “I climbed you to elevate my mood and to reach for a former self. I swung from your strong limbs to launch myself forward against gravity. I huddled under your great arms to stay dry. I leaned against your solid base for support and rest. I even gathered the leaves you scattered and secretly enjoyed the fresh air and toil!


When a tree falls it’s not because it doesn’t care any more or because we didn’t care enough. It simply is.


But do look out for it as well as at it.


The only regret one should have is that you enjoyed it too little, assuming it would always be there. Or you saw this tree as stock-still and inanimate. It was full of life— and it should not take death to fully realize that.


So as one tree fell another was planted not to replace it, but to raise it up. No one will ever look at this tree and not see the one it’s blessed to share common ground with.


Now and forever.

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