Joy settles into me, into my blood and breath and all of my being, as I watch the morning light change from moment to moment on the branches and the colors and the shape and form of the tree outside my window.
I have lived with this tree and watched the passage of time, the passage of the seasons, the passage of the years, through the ever-changing light of its branches and of its being. I am learning that “its being” and “my being” are not separate at all. We are part of one another. We are one another.
We humans count these minutes and hours and days by the clock. When I exercise, I make sure I know how long I’ve exercised, in minutes. When I lay on the floor to stretch, I count the seconds, my trusty clock on the floor with me. I watch months go past on my calendar, and I watch my calendar go from paper to electronic, and now I watch it sync – magic! – from one device to another. I count. We count. We all count!
This beautiful birch tree does not seem to count, however. The beauty of this beautiful birch tree is that it is in sync with another kind of rhythm, a deeper rhythm, a rhythm that is surely beating inside of me. It’s beating inside of you, too. Remember that today, and be grateful.
I have lived with this tree for almost 10 years now, and I am ever grateful for its presence in my life. This tree has taught me that change is a constant, that time is constant change, that life is moving, being shaped, changing all the time. This tree is teaching me that there is beauty in the most ordinary – and that the most ordinary is the most-extraordinary. This tree is teaching me that it is simply a tree, one complete being on this earth, and that I am simply – and wonderfully – me. This tree is teaching me that it is good to simply be yourself, and that being yourself happens without your working at it, and that being yourself is something you don’t have to do. This tree is teaching me to stand through change and the passage of time, even the time when tears are streaking across my face and the world out there is full of violence and shame and fear and grief. This tree is teaching me that the movement of time is slow but relentless, and that we are all changing in every moment, getting older, becoming more ourselves. This tree is teaching me that I don’t have to make all this happen, it is happening for me and through me and in me – and in you, and in this tree, and in all living beings, even those we call enemies.
This tree is teaching me to stand no matter what the passage of time brings – drought, cold rain, wind, sunshine that makes everything sparkle – and that I continue to stand, from moment to moment, from day light to end of day, from season to season.
“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.”
©Max Ehrmann 1927