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The Dream ~
Trees in the Courage of Time
Oh, she had her fungi infirmities alright. But she was beautifully clothed in all of it. Right down to her roots and the algae on her bark. I'd gone searching in the woods today. Searching for words. I wanted them to fall into my head and come flying out my pen like the leaves around my feet in the chill of an autumn day.
Really, said I, the similarly infirmed woman-of-trees and broken limbs. I know when the muse visits, O Inconvenient and Often Wrong Voice of Sanity. And It's visiting now. As soon as I turned the corner under the tree where the summer owls lived, I knew. Her white-skirted beauty nearly took my breath away. It stopped me in my tracks. That's a muse. Oh yes, that's a muse. Would you feel better if I gave her a name? We'll call her Lily Lichens.
I wanted to touch her skirt and talk about the woodsy mannequin of beauty she'd become, facing the evening sun like a Queen on a lace covered throne. No wonder the owls wanted to be near her kingdom.
She had no limbs to speak of. Only a bare-topped presence in the forest of Bloggingham.
But given the splendor of her skirt, I hardly noticed. Maybe the other trees couldn't recognize her awesomeness. But to me she was perfect imperfection.
Lily. She reminded me of someone. Of something.
I looked up. Poor thing had no coverage. No shelter. No life. Just barren and black. Empty arms and a trunk full of chemical compounds. In need of...yes...that's it!
I once had a dream I remembered my whole life.
I can put myself there in an instant. I walked through a forest of trees, but not just any 'ole trees. They were trees full of hurt and trees full of pain, bent down and twisted in the sickest most crippled of ways; all of them dead and black as coal. The gnarled trees represented people. My heart hurt to look at them because I knew them by name and I could see their naked infirmities. Their sorrows had become their actual physical manifestations.
Then along came a man who walked among the trees with me. He was a healer. In my soul's frame of reference he was Jesus to me. As He walked through the forest of blighted trees, he spoke to them with love. His presence and authority brought energy and light. Suddenly there was rejoicing. At the sound of His voice they were upright and healed. Every single one of them. There was no more suffering.
I am so weary of watching the suffering of humanity in my world. Sometimes I wonder how people who live in the midst of war manage to get up another day. If there were bombs falling in my morning commute, wouldn't I have just a tad more to worry about than broken limbs? I might want to stay in bed altogether.
But then again, there's Lily to consider.
What IS that noise in the leaves? Oh, probably just a squirrel. Wait! did I just see...no...can't be...no such things in these woods. But still. That was an awfully big squirrel darting behind that rock if you ask me.
But getting back to Lily. I wouldn't say this in front of her, but the girl is just wiry. How long has she been sitting here like this, exposed and vulnerable, prone to all sorts of vile and violent ridicule. It's embarrassing to be on display when you're a little short-changed in the display department. Not that I would say that in front of her. I wondered how one so regal could bear the brunt of it.
Other trees can be so cruel.
But even without a Jesus walker, Lily has courage. She knows deep in her roots that lichens like her need to sit in the morning sun. She will calmly nourish. She will calmly rebuild. She will heal in the sun and one day grow to be the neighbor she once was - the ally, the friend, the brother, defender, the peacemaker of all trees - dependable, shade-giving, strong, sturdy, able to stand up to temporary terror. Lily will prevail.
'Cause I'm here to tell you that when trees lose their limbs they grow strength in other places.
And that came in mighty handy a few minutes later.
I'd wandered up the mountain, much farther than I should have been alone with a broken arm and toting a camera in the other. But you know me. There's something there, up near the cluster of my mountain rocks I know I must see. I need to get there. Just watch your step, Mimi, don't hurry. You'll still make it in time to photograph those high-hilled shadows and get back before dark to write your peace post in plenty of time before midnight.
And I was alllmost there when I heard it again.
I don't have mortar shelling in my life, violence at my door or bloodshed on my streets like so many are experiencing at the moment. I have wild noises in the woods. And trees full of lichen. Inconvenient mishaps that trip me up at the smallest sound of trouble. I've had a lot of that lately. And worries. Stress. Life is full of challenges big and small. How does one stay peaceful in the midst of chaos? I've asked that out loud quite a lot lately. You see one thing through and something else shows up to throw you off your game. And just when you convince yourself it's OK to have a temporary pity party, you realize your blessings and the things you think catastrophic are nothing in comparison to children in the sand with no food.
Sometimes I am shadow and sometimes I am light.
That is what it means to be human.
And I have learned this: Suffering causes people to lose their peace. Just as my dream trees mourned in sorrow, just as my Lily waits for sunshine, so do children play in streets with bombs and bullets waiting for someone to change their world.
I want to wake up one morning and hear on the morning news that an unknown Bringer of Peace attacked the streets of Syria, or the roadsides in Baghdad or the majestic hills of Afghanistan carrying nothing in his arms but an olive branch and a batch of cookies. "He was met with much rejoicing," they'll say, as they all lay down their weapons.
They were trees in the courage of time.
Bent and listening for a spoken word of power.
It takes courage to be peace in the midst of conflict.
Everywhere you go you will walk among people striving for something - standing bare in the forest waiting for something - because nations are just people and people are just humans camped out on the same global axis. At the root of it all, we are just trying to walk our own peace wherever we are.
Sometimes people need to latch onto your peace before they can find their own.
Be that peace.
(Even if your limbs are falling off)
We are made ever stronger when sheltered in the shade of our allies, our truest trusted friends, our most honest relationships. Nothing else in life is worth fighting for.
The reality is that we live in a world where people spin hatred stronger than a peoples' will to be free. What kind of courage is that? What kind of world is that?
I'll tell you what kind of world. A planet full of an ever- growing number of humans who are so desensitized to the brutalities of life and human suffering that they begin to believe that the taking up of arms is strength, when in fact it is only power, and that the laying down of arms is weakness when in fact it is holy surrender.
This must stop.
Because if it doesn't, we will shoot the branch bearer when he appears.
And I might want some cookies.
The fox was faster than I. About half my size and poised to pay me an up close and personal visit. And I'm standing in a clearing? Now?? Wearing a long sweatercoat to further trip me up with a white-tailed fox? There are a million trees and I am six feet from the nearest one with no where to go but up? Or down...if the fox has his way. Who am I kidding? Me and my broken lichen limbs couldn't climb a tree if we found one. I could not see the tree for the forest this time. So I had to walk. And pretend I wasn't afraid. W.A.L.K. S.l.o.o.o.w.l.y. M.i.m.i. and get yourself off this mountain. Yes, folks, this time I listened to the well-timed voice of Sanity. That creature looks hungry, all bent over with his nose to the ground sniffing around for...for...food.
I really didn't want to be his dinner.
I made it back home safe and sound, vowing never to walk that mountain alone again (you know how long that will last) and wishing just a little that I'd not strayed so far from home when the fox came to my forest. There are worse things in the world ya know. Lily, in her infinite wisdom, continues to rebuild at dusk, sitting in the sun. She surrenders and waits. A tree in the courage of time. I put aside my fear and walked away from the fox. Given a bigger challenge or a bigger fox, that might mean the difference between life in a war zone and life under green green leaves..
Maybe the world doesn't need a savior. Or a hero. Or even a fatigue-wearing band of well-meaning revolutionaries armed with bigger and better weapons.
Maybe we need dream walkers brave enough to arrive with empty arms and powerful words.
As for me? I would just like to grow an olive branch.
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