Trees cover a third of the Earth.
And since time immemorial we have looked to them—for shelter, for sustenance, for ancient wisdom and healing, and absolutely for inspiration.
Our relationship with trees has been an intricate one. Our carbon-oxygen exchange is crucial, of course, but long before this was even realised, a deeper knowing hinted to us that trees held a power which we could only revere.
With their strength rooted deeply in the earth, they stand sturdy and often impenetrable, yet able to flex and sway when needed.
When we look to the trees, we are offered an insight as to how life on Earth can be more fully and deeply lived.
When we look to the trees, we see strength and beauty, symbols of the seasonality of life, suppliers of the very air we breathe, keepers of past secrets, and sentinels of the future. When we look to the trees, those magnificent and surely sentient creatures, is there more to be seen?
As the old adage that speaks advice from a tree’s perspective goes, we are encouraged to “stand tall and proud, go out on a limb, remember our roots, enjoy the view.” Sage words indeed.
But when we look to the trees, what are we really looking at, or for? Why do we look to the trees at all?
Like trees, we must grow our roots down to the depths of ourselves. We must anchor into our land, our ecosystem, our history, our culture, our tradition. We must draw on the deepest depths of our knowing for sustenance and nourishment.
We must use all the tools of the wisdom of nature, looking for what is there but hidden, gleaning what we can from that which supports us.
We must learn how to exist in deep communion with all that surrounds us, to be firmly of our place, but to let this expand us deeper, higher, further.
We must reach up high. Aiming toward the sun and the sky, we must look to the expansive heavens above and reach into that mystery. We must stretch to our upper reaches, exploring the realms of wisdom and consciousness and sacred spirit.
We must look to the heavens high above for the inspiration to unfurl that which is safely locked in our own beings. New shoots and buds will blossom from our minds and hearts as we look to grow ourselves outward and upward, just like the curling, stretching, faithful shoots of each tree.
As we root down and reach high, we also grow outward and toward one other. As we grow, in singularity or as a whole teeming forest of beings, we must remain cognizant of each other, using our environmen to support ourselves and one another.
We must expand or contract our communities based on resources abundant or scarce. We must be present with each other and the energetics of life around us, just as trees are deeply a part of their ecosystems.
Have you ever seen trees wrap themselves around each other as they grow tall toward the sky, in a mutually beneficial hug, as it were?
Or how the branches of another will grow out and around the lines of an electric cable, feeling the vibration and where it is safe for them to expand or not?
Trees have been known to sense danger, and will not grow in too perilous a place. But they are tenacious too, and can persist when challenged. Whole forests will shift and adapt based on the growth of new saplings.
Trees root not just for themselves, but for each other, too.
When a tree is wounded, it does not cover its hurt, instead bearing its scars bare for all to see. It grows in spite of that wounded place, incorporating its new form, its new chink, into its visage. Trees that survive deep wounds are all the more noble for it.
Yet when a tree dies, it releases its nutrients back into the soil so that others may flourish.
Trees tell stories too—the story of their lives—for anyone who cares to stop and listen. These stories cannot be heard with ears, but must be felt with hearts.
I myself have touched upon a mighty master of a tree who shot an electric bolt straight to the core of me. It was a physical blast of energy so strong that for one half a beat, my heart nearly stopped, and my eyes stung with tears. It had a message for me to listen to.
All trees have their story, their message, their pulse of life that they send out into the world—just as we humans do.
Finally, we must look to the trees because they harbour so much life. They support microcosms within macrocosms, sheltering flora and fauna, allowing fungi to thrive, soil to stabilise, water tables to settle. Their very existence supports the confluence of elements that are nature’s essence.
Because they oxygenate our planet, trees let life breathe easy, existing in a harmony of give and take. Give and take, rest and fall away, spring forth and thrive, breathe, be. They bend and sometimes fall, sometimes burn to ashes, sometimes age to gigantic, creaking grandeur.
Yet they give and take, breathe and flux, support and survive, blossom and die.
Why do we look to the trees?
Because without them we could not survive. But when we really look to them, we may find what we need to truly thrive.
Author: Jenny O’Hare
Image: Ivana Bugarinovic/Flickr
Editor: Callie Rushton