I’d like to share a love story, between a young arbutus tree and me.
I have a regular hiking trail close to my home. There is a wiry, sun-reaching arbutus tree, a wild-world friend, at the trail head. At the beginning and end of my hike, I touch my mid-brow to its twisting limbs and breathe in a bit of its essence while sharing a bit of my own.
It was late Fall at the time of this story and each Fall I set an intention for my personal work. This year my focus was to become saner and more present, which included trying to resolve my life-long habit of getting lost in my mind reality, and disconnecting from my physical environment.
On my last few walks, the maple trees had carpeted the forest floor with their orange leaves, obscuring the lines of the trail. I got lost, in large part because I was thinking more than paying attention to my surroundings, and had to wade through the bush to get back to the road. I intuited that the forest was challenging me, and I would continue to lose my way until I figured out how to be more present and sane.
The day of this story, I again lost my way but I was able to re-trace my steps back to the trail head by paying close attention to landmarks. When I got to the arbutus tree, I did my little connection ritual and noticed something new. Its orange-brown bark had peeled away, revealing shiny green skin underneath. Carved on its skin were a large heart and the words, “I love you.”
Now I know that anyone could come up with a logical explanation for the sudden appearance of this love letter, but what hit me at this moment was the heart-widening, soul-aching realization that my wild-tree friend truly loved me — not a treacle-sweet Valentine’s Day kind of love, nor a warm, enveloping, motherly love, but a fierce, tugging, unrelenting love, like the ocean, that called me back to its life-sustaining waters.
Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day, as I viscerally took in this love that was everywhere and in everything. It was the burning ember of light interwoven with matter. It was the driving force that calls us to strive and struggle, and to grow and blossom. It was the hunger that compels us to stroke the skin of another, in passion and in connection, and to hunger to be stroked in return. It was the cupped hands of the Goddess that hold us in our seasons of joy and sorrow, and life and death.I did not have to do anything, be anything, to be worthy of this love. And I did not have to fix myself to be sane. I just had to show up as me, pay attention and find my way back to this moment gifted to me by the wild world. I was not separate from this love; that heart and those letters were carved as deep into my flesh as they were on my arbutus friend. I am this love, and my true and deepest purpose is to be love.
This is not just a love story between the arbutus tree and me. It is a love story that calls us back to the Goddess’s mysteries, where life unendingly reaches out in love and connection to life.
The Path of She is published on alternate Saturdays; follow it via RSS or e-mail! If you like Karen’s work, like her page on Facebook or maybe buy her book, Tale of the Lost Daughter, a fictional spiritual adventure into the life-changing world of magic and the sacred feminine.