I walk a few steps on the dirt path, turn slightly right at the pond. There she is. My mother-tree. Massive in her majesty. I bend my head upward to take in her sky-bound thick trunk. Her branches reach east and west. I have arrived at my mother-tree. I smile. Firmly press my hiking boots into the soft earth.
She stands firmly, roots unseen, branches outstretched, calling me into her earthy embrace. She is a living being to me.
I tell myself, “Pause, stop completely, don’t rush.” That’s hard for me. When I am in the middle of my walking, I move swiftly, one foot in front of the other. My mother-tree is patient with me. She waits for me to stop. She does not move and hopes that I, too, will not move from this place so close to her. I practice stopping.
I lean closer, touch her woody bark. I want to listen, to hear what she is telling me. She does not use words, phrases, or sentences with correct grammar and punctuation. She speaks in earth vibrations.
Breathing helps me. Precious in and out breath. Slowly. Purposefully. My hand feels warm on her trunk. I lean in closer, ridding myself of needing to discover what she is saying. I open to emotions, sensations, stirrings that dance off her bark into my fingertips. I am fully present with my mother-tree.
After awhile, I step back from her. Again, I raise my head high to take in her magnificence. I stretch my limbs modeling her outstretched branches. We smile at each other. A natural rush shared between us.
She is my muse, my mother-tree guiding me to another way of being, not just in nature, but with nature. For this moment, this pause, I am tree. I am me.
This post was written by my good friend, Janice Fialka. Check out her latest book, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love and her website, Dance of Partnership.
Both photos come from Janice’s personal collection.