A Tree Says…

IMG_1387“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men,

IMG_1314 like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farm boy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

IMG_2369A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neitherIMG_1357 here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

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Summer Nights

There’s just something about a summer night.  The sun drops slowly, and the air starts to cool, just a little.  The chorus of crickets begins to sing, orchestrated by the stars as they appear overhead.  A breeze brushes past and your skin buzzes.  Possibility fills the air.  Anything could happen.  You sit and watch dusk turn to dark and let all your secrets out.

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To me summer was always camp.  Going to camp, working at camp.  It was all the same.  A bunch of people who saw each other once a year, or maybe met once and never again, come together and share experiences that bring them together like nothing else can.  It was the place I shared things that only my journal got to hear the other 46 weeks out of the year.

This summer I did not work at camp.  I longed for just one “summer night”.  Just one night where I let my guard down and let the magic of summer envelop me and the person I was with.  I’ve had a lot of great nights this summer, dancing and laughing and having fun.  But something was missing.

This past weekend I went to visit my friend in Brooklyn.  We walked to the park and drank smoothies.  We laughed as all the owners let their dogs run free and hump one another.  We talked.  Deep.  Frustrated.  Angry.  Loving.  And when we had finished we climbed up onto her roof.  We meditated, right on the edge, floating above all the twinkling city lights.  We were filled with possibility.  Anything can happen.

It was the perfect summer night.

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How to Meditate [poem by Jack Kerouac]

How to Meditate

                      -lights out-
fall, hands a-clasped, into instantaneous
ecstasy like a shot of heroin or morphine,
the gland inside of my brain discharging
the good glad fluid (Holy Fluid) as
i hap-down and hold all my body parts
down to a deadstop trance-Healing
all my sicknesses-erasing all-not
even the shred of a “I-hope-you” or a
Loony Balloon left in it, but the mind
blank, serene, thoughtless. When a thought
comes a-springing from afar with its held-
forth figure of image, you spoof it out,
you spuff it off, you fake it, and
it fades, and thought never comes-and
with joy you realize for the first time
“thinking’s just like not thinking-
So I don’t have to think
any
more”
-Jack Kerouac, 1967