money doesn’t grow on trees

The winter field behind my home is flat and barren, save the twisted skeleton of a gnarled and aged tree. She grows along a run, which fills only with the springtime thaw or when the heavy laden summer sky lets loose at once, as if it has held back its anger far too long, like Jesus in the temple, turning over tables.

 

I often muse over what her life has been, imagining the day she first emerged, surprised by the light, to be sheltered by the loving arch of elders. I drink deeply as I ponder the richness of the nourishment from which she drew, layer upon layer of light-gathering and relinquishment laid down at her feet by ancestors. I yearn to sink into the soil with her, bury myself up to my hips, and feel the security of being held while my body reaches for, dances in, and soaks up the Source of my own life, as I grow into myself, into some meaningful expression of the Same.

 

I wonder. When the land around her was first cleared to offer up a different kind of nourishment for newcomers, did she suddenly feel naked and alone? Did she mourn the loss of her companions, even as she observed a new kind of life springing up? I wonder why she was chosen to remain. Perhaps to hold onto precious soil that might be washed away with sudden springtime rushes, perhaps as a natural kind of boundary, or perhaps she once stood at the edge of the wood. Regardless, she became, on that day, transformed. Now a respite for the homeless birds, then a haven for the rodents who gathered and sought shelter in her roots, finally a refuge for the cows who crowded ‘neath her isolated canopy in the ever expanding barrenness.

 

Today, as I gaze upon her, this is also what I find. Sanctuary. The forest is gone, the family garden plot is gone, the cows are gone, even the miles of corn are gone, and yet she stands as if patiently waiting, open armed, curiously observant. Wise with love. This particular strip of land has not yet been bulldozed. It is last on the developers’ plans. Last summer, it threatened to become a meadow bustling with grasshoppers and crickets, birds and mice, amongst the diversity of weeds that mined its soil for long-missing surface nutrients. I imagined that I saw her smile. Yes, there is something that she speaks to me of beauty and of wisdom and of grace.

 

She feeds me. She feeds me in a way that leaves me feeling filled, at peace, assured. When the landscape around has become stripped of value and forced into conformity for economic gain (such that chemical dependency has become inevitable) she stands out stark as hope on the terrain. When the landscape that surrounds is devoid of the relationship of being received and receiving, when there are not layers of nurture feeding but rather constant stripping, she alone lets down her leaves.  When the land has become mere commodity so that its worth is reduced to market value, and thus can neither realize nor give of its true nature, she stands alone with the grace of Being on the horizon. It is as if she beckons, ‘Come to me and I will give you rest”

 

As we contemplate our place in the landscape of society, let us not misplace our value, nor diminish it as yet another commodity. Let us not negate our ability to nurture because we are not a cash crop. We can turn the tables for we possess a different kind of power, one that is not based in money but in wisdom and in grace. We stand perhaps alone, perhaps on the boundary line of something deeper, holding onto precious soil. Only by staying firmly rooted in Love can we reach outward with our networks to dance in this place as meaningful expressions of the Same. Our power is in our willingness to be a place without demand for conformity or judgment; to offer refuge, shelter, and embrace; to let down our showy leaves in order to nurture; to display our own vulnerability during winter times; to smile at what the world calls weeds, because we know the rich and needful nutrients they bring; to welcome the small, the transient, the weary; to be a patient, gentle presence, wise with years of seeing. Our gift perhaps is not so much in doing-for or giving-to, but in simply being grace-fully who we are, a place for humanity to be held and received into being, a place safe enough for all of us to become grace-fully who we are.

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