By Jamia Wilson
In a moment of distress a few months ago, a wise woman confidant told me to find comfort in trees.
She told me about how her Buddhist practice led her to understand and celebrate arboreal power. When I explained that negative energies that were swirling around me lowered my frequency and my centeredness, she asked me to contemplate trees.
When my sage friend first mentioned it, I wondered how trees could be connected to stresses I dealt with in the workplace, the chaotic and sometimes drama-filled L-train commute, and the nagging fears I had about finances as a non-profit worker-bee and child of the student debt generation.
When I paused and reminded myself to turn off the cynical mixtape in my head and turn on active listening, I asked her to explain how my life was connected to trees. When she illuminated that a tree was still a tree no matter what happened to it, the spark went off in my mind.
My friend went on to illustrate the many scenarios the tree could endure that may change its leaves, its color, and even break some of its branches or trunk. After going through the seasons and the states that the tree would exist in, she asked me if the tree was still a tree or did the conditions around it change what it was at its very core and its simplest nature?
I hold the wisdom of this lesson close to my heart. I have shared it with a few friends who have faced adversity and hardships in the fast few weeks, reminding them that they were trees yesterday, trees today, and will be trees tomorrow no matter what maelstrom of pain might crash into their lives.
I learned this metaphor about trees a few weeks before political and environmental activist Wangari Maathai passed away. As soon as I heard of her transition from this life in late September, I thought about all of the trees she planted in her environmental conservation and women’s rights endeavors. I contemplated the many ways that we give life, plant seeds, or simply “be” – existing as strong, resilient, enduring, and soulful pillars of wisdom and history.
Now, whenever I face a new challenge, I imagine myself as a tree, rooted in earth, with many rings including etchings of all of my stories of sublime moments and points of suffering.
I face fear with the understanding that I am a tree no matter what elements confront me. God created me and nothing can change the core essence of who I am. I will remain a tree in the face of ferocious fire, air, or water. I am sturdy, strong, wise, and divinely feminine.