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.