Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Tree that Teaches Trust

There is a tree- I don't actually know what kind- situated right beside the entrance to the 19th Street BART station. It stands in such a way, that as one ascends the stairs to exit the station, it looms above, taking up the majority of the square of open sky visible from underground.

I have looked up at that tree every time I've climbed those stairs. At all hours of the day- morning light, bright afternoon, and night dark- illuminated by street lights. And that sweet tree has turned from brilliant green, to bright and startling full yellow, to sparse yellow-turning-brown, to a handful of shriveled brown leaves hanging still to bare branches, and, just the other day, completely bare.

It may seem like this is the perfect example of impermanence and change and the turning of the year. And in many ways, it is. It is a beautiful and tender illustration of just how much things change. Of all the reminders that time passes, wind blows, the earth travels around the sun.

But more than that, to me, this is an example of steadiness and trust. If I trust anything, I trust that this tree will not appear to me the same way twice. That is something solid. Knowing that, I can rest in the beauty of each glimpse- always curious. The tree could fall over in a storm, be cut down, die and shrivel away. This time when I see it, will those bare branches host a bird? A reflection of sunlight? A fugitive plastic bag? I do not know, and that is a relief. I can rely on the freshness of this particular tree. That it will always greet me as it is, with no concern for how it once was, or how I'd like it to be, or even how it may be in the future. Rather, it just stands there, and is.

I take a lesson in this solidity. Can I, too, rest with such confidence in my being? Can I hold my branches up right whether they are weighed with bright green leaves or utterly bare? Can I accept the sun which bathes me as equally and gracefully as the dark night air?

It may seem odd to find such trust in something so seemingly unstable. But when I think of what it means to trust- I think of the phrase "to rest in." What can I rest in? I can rest in this solid essence of taking my seat, of inhabiting my experience fully. I can rest in the fact that that tree will be there or not, exactly in that particular experience. In the same way, I can trust myself to possess some core of being there- regardless of circumstance.


I can rest in meeting the moment. I can trust that I will get sick sometimes, or grow old, and eventually die. And in the mean time, perhaps I will be happy, or sad. Or fulfilled. Or confused. Or injured. Or in love. Or afraid. Or relieved. Perhaps I will wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Or I'll grow out my hair. Or I won't. And I'll sit in the sun. And I'll sit in the moonlight. And I'll be dead- whatever that will bring. And throughout all of this, whatever it is, I can be there. Just like that tree.

1 comment:

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