Be Still - Katieby Miracle Chasers on 08/19/19
On a recent trip to CA we went for a walk with friends in the nearby woods. Even though the temperature was in the nineties, the walk was entirely in shade and in some spots you could still feel the refreshing comfort of morning cool from a few hours before. Our friend mentioned something called forest bathing, which I had never heard of, and which consists of a romp in the woods or forest concentrating all your senses on the trees. Known as shinrin-yoku in Japan, there is no hiking or photography or talking allowed. Just being. Listening to the trees rustling in the wind or watching the sunlight dapple on the path as it filters through the leaves, keeping all your senses on high alert, even your 6th sense, your state of mind. I'm glad we weren't officially tree bathing on this particular day because I did snap a photo that caught a heart at the top of the canopy.
Trees, some living for thousands of years, do possess a certain ancient wisdom to pass along if we but listen and see, breathe and touch and be. They mark time and bear witness, survive calamity, resilient and faithful in their ability to go on. No two silhouettes, branches or leaves are alike providing us a new experience with each encounter. Shinrin-yoku teaches us to be stewards of nature with the patience to allow the details to unfold. In return, we receive an appreciation for the bounty that surrounds us, and the solitude to be aware and in the moment.
Trees have been an important symbol at the center of history, literature and spirituality throughout the ages. Buddha became enlightened under the shade of a Bodhi tree and the Tree of Life from Genesis conferred eternal life, much to the chagrin of the exiled and fallen Adam and Eve. In more modern times, Anne Frank kept track of the seasons through the one uncovered window in the attic and dreamed of life outside by the watch of a horse chestnut tree. Inspired by her tree, she wrote, "The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God." To that end, there is a beautiful pear tree at the 9/11 Memorial, the "survivor tree", initially scarred, burned and pulled from the rubble that was nursed back to health, and now stands for hope and rebirth.
As the summer winds down and before the leaves begin to fall, take a moment to look up at a nearby canopy, or sit in the shade of a wise old tree. As Hermann Hess wrote, "...a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me!" And allow yourself to ponder.