Spring has definitely arrived and this week’s thought we hear from Eve Salthouse about ‘An ordinary tree’ (or is it?)
This is a very ordinary week.
When I was asked to write a thought for this week from a pagan perspective, I wondered what I could say about this oh-so-ordinary week. The moon is not full, the moon is not new. The earth continues its equinoctial bow towards solstice. Spring Equinox is now past and Beltane is not yet here. What is there to reflect on, in such an ordinary week?
The earth does not think it is ordinary. The moon and the sun and the stars still continue their stately dance. Life surges in the dark earth, in the new nests and dens and burrows. It’s only us, with our tiny human impatience, that see it as an ordinary time.
It is so easy to get caught up in the rhythm of our working week, our shopping lists and weekend plans, to rush unseeing through the ordinary days, to get to those exciting moments. We worry about problems at work, tell ourselves to remember to put cat food on the shopping list, and spend our evenings anaesthetised in front of a TV screen .
I have a thing I do when I need to see past the ordinary and the humdrum. There is a tree I know, an oak tree. It’s old and battered, with the scars of an old fire on one side and damage from hedging and erosion . Because it grows on the steep side of a hill, it has grown twisted, clinging onto the slope. Two branches long ago fused together, making a broad seat hanging out over the slope, with a higher branch forming a canopy. Sometimes I go and sit cross-legged in the tree. Sitting sounds an ordinary thing to do, but to sit held in the palm of an oak tree is not at all an ordinary thing, (I have had some very startled looks from people passing by on the path!). Trees are amazing living beings that we accept as just ordinary scenery in our ordinary lives. We may notice the occasional magnificent magnolia or graceful birch, but mostly they are just there. Part of the scenery. But a tree is much more than that. A tree is perspective written in root and branch and bark. This tree grew from a tiny acorn many many decades ago. It is old and battered but still has such enormous strength and solidity that it can hold me without effort.
Pagans are sometimes jokingly called treehuggers. It’s true many of us do hug trees. I’m lucky enough (very lucky at my time of life), to know one with a welcoming lap to sit in. Trees have many things to offer us. Beauty, shelter, comfort, perspective, solidity, air to breathe. But they also remind us of the wonder underlying the ordinariness of our lives. When you feel trapped in the ordinary and everyday, go and make friends with a tree. It’s not an ordinary thing to do.