Living like a tree
with my roots dug down
My branches wide and open
Come down the rain
Come down the sun
Come down the fruit
to a heart that is open
My spiritual practices almost always contain song and motion. Living Like a Tree is one of my go-to songs. When I’m feeling like my heart and spirit are not getting nourished, I turn my attention to my roots. When I feel disconnected from my life-mission I turn my attention to opening my heart and my spiritual branches. When I am feeling like the rain is coming too fast or the sun light is too strong, I remember the season and the constant change that a tree goes through.
Living Like a Tree
I learned it as “standing” like a tree. Then listened to beloved people in my life who could not “stand” when doing spiritual practice, and some who cannot even sit. There is no reason to exclude anyone with our language if we can change it, so it was an easy change. Using “living” instead of “standing” allows someone in a hospital bed to fully enter into an experience of the imagery of roots and branches. As I sing this line, I imagine my spine as a tree trunk. I focus on my core strength and the energy running through me.
With My Roots Dug Down
What nurtures you? Usually when I offer a tarot card reading I use a layout that includes a tree metaphor. One card is the roots, one card is the fruits. When you look at your life, what nourishes you? What gives you energy and a reason to get out of bed in the morning? Who supports you? Where do you go to renew and rejuvenate? The roots are what you take in. The fruits are what you give to the world. As I sing this line I imagine roots sunk into the earth. Sometimes I take the time to imagine the roots going down all the way to the center of the earth where my spirit-roots are not harmed by the molten core of the earth that is pure raw energy. Often I wiggle my toes against whatever surface supports me. This works better without shoes on.
My Branches Wide and Open
Did you know that Aspen trees are not individuals? They grow as a group and share resources. The human community needs each other – our spiritual branches intertwine – and we rely on the community to exist and to flourish. As I sing this line I raise my hands to the air. I feel the breath that was once breathed by dinosaurs, that came from plants, that has been a part of animals all over the world. I imagine my branches connecting with the branches of other people in a forest of humanity that calmly sways together in peace and mutual support.
Come down the Rain, Come down the Sun
Our lives are full of unexpected (and expected) gifts and struggles. Physical health, relationships, compassion for others, getting one’s needs met, and the daily accidents of life can delight us and plunge us into despair. The sun can be nourishing and it can burn. Rain can fill you with needed sustenance or can overwhelm. These are the conditions of our lives. They can weigh us down, and without help, they can destroy us. They can also lift us up, and be magnified by sharing. The seasons of birth, of love, of productivity, of loss, of wisdom, and finally transformation into something beyond human pass over, and through, us. Nature continues on, even as we human beings emerge and disappear.
As I sing this line I move my hands into the shape of the sun above my head, then twinkle my fingers down like rain drops.
Come down the fruit
The fruit can come from the community, from the divine, from the universe and all we hold holy. The fruit can come from the sacred within you. As the poet Judy Grahn says “My heart is an apple.” What we offer to the world is nourishment for others, and is sourced from the ground of being through our own essence, our own hearts. What are the gifts that your heart years to offer? How do you make the world a better place? How do you live your best self? How do you serve the spirit of love? As I sing this line I hold my hands out to offer the imaginary fruit held in them.
To a Heart that is Open
Whole-hearted living is only possible if your heart is open. You must be open to giving and receiving love, and with that, you must be open to the loss and grieving and pain that comes with being truly open to life. This tender-hearted path is not for the faint-of-heart. It takes great courage and fortitude to be open-hearted. It takes failing, again and again, and trying again and again. It takes self-compassion and the willingness to ask for the support and nourishment you need. It takes risks. You must risk offering the fruit that you are called to give. As I sing this I bring my hands, which just had the imaginary fruit in them, to my heart, and then open them wide to hug the whole world.
The song circles around. There is no beginning, there is no end. We are constantly in this present moment, learning to BE and not rely on the identity of “do”ing. This still point is just as important as the roots, the fruit, and the changes of the season. Just be. Breathing into your whole, sacred, self.