Spiritual Seedlings

5) The Wisdom of the Trees


Several years ago, I led a session on Lectio Divina with Nature at Buck Creek State Park during a women’s retreat with my church friends. As I walked out into the cul-de-sac near our cabin, the trees shimmered. I wrote this poem about how God spoke to me through the trees that day.  This is an excerpt from my book Awakening: A Contemplative Primer on Learning to Sit (Higher Ground Books and Media, 2020), pages 132-34.


I come asking for hope this day.

I come to listen to the nature of creation.

I come to open my senses into morning.

I come to learn.


Here, in this little bit of State Park heaven

I walk mesmerized by the beauty

Stretching up, out, and all around –

The sweet, answering wisdom of the trees.


I worry about the earth’s destruction.

The trees simply grow.

They branch out and hunker down.

With variety, with resourcefulness and stride.


I worry how we will continue.

And then I watch the trees, cycling into autumn.

Their leaves blaze into glory, and let go,

Falling back down to earth.


I wonder what I can do –

And then I see the trees growing wildly, exploring possibilities,

Expanding to fill open space,

Each fulfilling their unique destiny.


I sense great chaos in our time,

And then I feel the strong trunk and rough bark.

I hold the strength of this towering giant,

Deeply rooted in earth.


I remember Hushpuppy listening[i]

And I open my ears and skin to the wind blowing through the trees

Feeling, hearing breeze, I watch

Trees swaying flexibly, in the flow.


I tend toward anxiety

But here I see trees simply being

Expressing their destiny in a great variety of greens, yellows, reds and browns;

Creating beauty in this landscape, microcosm of all.


I feel overwhelmed,

And then the trees tell me: Breathe in our oxygen offering.

I receive, and then breathe out; giving them carbon dioxide.

Yes, we are all interconnected — we are one.


I ask for hope in our time

And the trees answer

Branching mystery, growing toward life-giving light,

Rooting to God Spirit deep in earth, leading way.


[i] Hushpuppy was a character in the movie, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012) documenting the Katrina hurricane. She was a 6-year-old girl who listened to nature in the film.