The lesson of a cedar tree

August 25, 2010

The cedar grove is very quiet. Not silent – there are birds singing their songs, there is wind playing in the branches, little furry creatures scurrying through dry pine needles and pieces of bark, but all those sounds do not disturb the quiet stillness. Old trees, trees that stood there for hundreds of years, with their massive trunks scarred by burns and cuts – they are quiet, they communicate, they relate in the quiet, still space. They hold it and create it. This is how they are. And when you sit under those trees the quiet sips into you and enfolds you, and you become part of it. You become the holder of the quiet space, though not a silent space. There are sounds, but there is no noise anymore, not inside. Trees speak to you, and you become like trees. Quiet. I sat in this grove, and then walked away, through the meadows, wading in grasses reaching up to my hip. I sat with my back against a trunk of a fallen tree, washed into white smoothness by years of rains and snowfalls. I was hidden in the grass, hidden from the mountain peaks looming over the valley, from the watchful pine trees covering their slopes. Then I wandered away again and found a young tree that fell across a river, a rushing mountain river, freezing cold but not frozen because of the rapidity of it’s movement. I climbed up the tree, over the river, and went back to my own spot. To my chair, with a cup of tea next to it, on a high bank with the river at my feet. I sat there for three days, when I didn’t roam through the forest and the meadows. I sat there and felt good, calm, quiet, like the cedar trees. Life was good, simple, clear, like it used to be. “It had to be this way once”, I thought, “long time ago, before we started making noise, before we forgot how to be quiet”. I sat at the river bank and felt strong, healthy, vibrant. Like an animal, like a young wolf or a mountain goat. And I was hungry! When the time came to eat I ate with no consideration for organic, or locally grown, or fat and sugar content. I ate trouts baked over the fire, and potatoes cooked in the embers, and bread kept in flames far too long, blackened and charred, and dripping with butter. A lot of unhealthy butter. But It was healthy there, because I was hungry, because in this quiet, simple space everything was healthy. I came home yesterday, after only three days spent up in the mountains, and it felt like I was gone for months. I talked to a friend who just came back from his vacation, he told me about all the things he did, all the places he went. There was so much fun, so much doing, so much movement in his story. “I haven’t done anything”, I thought, “I just sat by the river, and in the cedar grove, and in the meadows”. I haven’t gone places, seen places, done things, but I sat, like the cedar trees taught me, quietly, and there was an entire lifetime in my three days spent in the mountain Forrest, in a little cabin at the bank of a rushing river. There was a lifetime in every moment, and nothing more was needed.

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