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Lessons from a Tree

Autumn Leaves with shadows on tree

Imagine you are a tree. What type of consciousness do you possess? The factors determining consciousness include a sense of survival that indicates self awareness. It also includes a sense of understanding where we stand in time and space.

All plants demonstrate a drive for nourishment, but they move so slowly, we fail to see this activity. If you watch plants in time lapse, they climb, twist and turn as a way of opening their tiny solar panels toward the light. They communicate warnings to each other through chemical signals in the air and in the soil. The growing consensus is that plants are conscious too.

But you are a tree. How do you see the world? You've been standing in the same spot since those long ago days, when you first burst through the seed's protective covering. You pushed through the rocks and darkness until you found a firm footing to withstand the storms that would make you stronger.

Everything you have become was in that seed.

What you lack in immediate mobility - you more than make up for in your ability to span the entirety of the universe like no other species. You connect the sun's energy cycle to the earth and its creatures.

You can't even count the number of thunderstorms that you have witnessed. To you, the clouds and rain are the life giving source, bestowing the exact particles that will be used in your photosynthesis process. You drink in the sunlight and pull in the water from the surrounding soil. You use the light particles to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen. While you are busy expanding your arms toward the sun, you nourish the earth with oxygen.

In an annual cycle, you spread your arms in abundant foliage, providing homes and nourishment for others. And then your leaves begin to fall. One by one, you let them. Perhaps that is why you have become a symbol of the world's idea of creation and evolution as the World Tree. Like the snake shedding its skin in yearly cycles, you inspire the world with a sense of faith through transformation.

In fact, the World Tree is a universal symbol of divine consciousness and creation. Did the ancients understand your intimate connection to the sun symbolizing the heavens? Did they celebrate the enormous interconnectivity you share with others in the hidden root structures below the earth?

Just like dreams, our universal symbols require no logical interpretation. It is as if we already new everything we needed to know before we arrived.

Some may watch you and decide you have no real awareness or self consciousness. But any species driven toward survival must have a sense of what they are protecting. We may see you as an inanimate and uncommunicative being merely because we don't understand your chemical language.

And to watch you gently sway in the breeze, it is like dancing. You bend with a type of flexibility that makes the shape of laughter. No matter the storm, and no matter how low you are brought down, the sun always inspires you to stand up again. In no time, you are dancing again in the shape of the wind.

Your roots extend deep into the earth mirroring your branches above and this is perhaps, the greatest inspiration you can offer us. Just as you cannot plant a large tree in a small pot, the garden of our inner world must mirror how we expect to spread our branches out into the world.

You teach us about patience and generosity. The trees we plant today are often only appreciated by those who come later. You teach us about faith and learning to let go. You teach us how to bend and you teach us how to rise up again. More than anything, you are a symbol of life's interconnectivity.