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Posted By Opening the Heart


beech tree

   It was a beautiful clear glass day on Monday February 20th- cool but if you found a sheltered corner, lifted your face to the sun and closed your eyes, you could feel Spring, smell it, sense it in the inner heart pulse that sent a soft steady beat to the lungs and  legs that said: "Let's go!"... So we went- my dear friend, Peter and I. He took me to a place in Wellesley- 36 acres of pristine woods, ponds, gardens and wildlife sanctuaries.

    We walked in the woods, bright sun cutting shadows through the pine, elms and maples. The path went right along the Charles River, separating Wellesley from Natick and Peter told about his new interest and research in trees, how ancient and soulful they were and what they had to teach us. And he invited us to just stop on the path and look up at the blue sky through the bare birch and oak trees. We were quiet and just breathed in beauty.

    A few steps further along, we came to the river's edge and watched mallards swimming. There was a stand of grey aspens moving from the wind in a slow dance reflected in the  river. If we listened carefully, we could hear the soft crunch of pine needles as we walked. We talked of big things and little things, laughed and were quiet, listening to the wind come through the branches and dead leaves still clinging to limbs. We came to an open space with a huge dead tree trunk stripped by time and weather of all its branches and limbs, as well as its bark. I wondered at first why it hadn't been cut down to preserve the beauty of this little place.

    Then I walked over to the tree, reverently, as if it were an Elder. I put my hand on the trunk, felt the smoothness and saw the map of the million little rivers gouged out by insects. As I gently walked around it, I saw the sign that read "Bird Habitat". I thought of Bob Franke's song lyric: "What can you do with each moment of your life, But love 'til you love it away"... And at the top of the trunk, I saw the holes and nests where birds stayed and raised their families in this dead trunk that, somehow, had still found, in death, a purpose for living things.

 Then Peter asked me "Do you hear that?" I did not, until he brought me closer to a stand of sugar maples and I heard the steady drip! drip! of the sap falling into the aluminum pail. Life flowing sure and internal and in perfect rhythm with the season.

 Peter asked if I wanted to see his favorite tree and I knew exactly which one it must be as we approached the only beech tree I recognized on our walk. It was majestic. Peter pointed out something you would never really see at first glance. "It's actually two trees that have grown into one". And, sure enough, you could see how they had cleaved to one another. As you looked closely at the trunk, you could read the diary of the good decades when the growth had been steady and even, and then the challenging years as they "figured out" their differences. Peter aligned my head so I could see the very fine line of separation  about two feet long at eye level of the trunk- maybe where they each had decided to do their own thing.

 On this late winter day, I thought of many things: the rhythm of life, the senses coming alive, the heart opening, friendship, gratitude. It was a beautiful day and a hopeful and special walk in the woods with my friend. With Love and Respect, Jon 


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