The sun inches above the horizon, streaming the warm light of a new day across my backyard. Here I sit with pen and journal under the familiar lush canopy of an ancient Black Walnut tree. It’s where I often retreat when in need of tranquility to “hear myself think.”
There’s nothing much holier than a long-breathing and steadfast tree, with roots nestled into infinity and tall boughs that rustle the senses awake. For me, it’s as good a preacher as any. This morning, I am ripe for a sermon.
Should I stay or should I go? I scribble in my journal. I am deliberating whether to remain in this sanctuary of a home I’ve known for 22 years, or sell it and start the next chapter of my life fresh in another part of the country. It’s a tough call even when I’m not feeling sentimental. In these dawn moments, the sadness is upon me as I contemplate leaving this slice of heaven.
So much of me and my children—the toils and joys of our lives—is in this soil. It’s where I raised them and while they’ve graduated from college and are carving their own destinies many miles yonder, their essence permeates this property, too. Selling it seems like a betrayal of sorts; how can they “come home to Mom”—to the only home they’ve ever known—if I’m elsewhere? Then my spiritual acumen rises up and reminds me that, ultimately, every path leads home in matters of the heart.
I clear my head long enough to recognize that my favorite tree wants to offer its wisdom. With a quiet prayer, I open to receiving it. I begin by asking aloud: “Others have been saying I have deep roots in this town and that I need to sever them and make a clean break, or uplift my roots in order to move on. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”
Tree responds: NO. Do neither of those. It is not how nature works. What happens when you dig up and attempt to transport a plant or tree with deep roots? You get transplant shock. You weaken the very support structure. It might not survive the transplant. Better to leave a part of the root or even better yet, instead take the fruit of the tree with the seeds contained within. Be more like a bee that propagates and brings its sweetness elsewhere.
I ask Tree to give me a piece of its fruit as a symbol. Ten minutes later, I spot a whole walnut in the front of the house, very unusual for this time of year (summer), as the squirrels typically have them cracked open and mostly eaten or buried by now.
So . . . I am to keep my roots here and take the fruit, the gifts, from my time here and move on. I walk back and sit at the base of the walnut tree, its thick trunk effortlessly supporting me.
“Let’s talk about how I do that,” I inquire.
Tree wants to talk to me about freedom. It tells me that my ONLY responsibility in life is to grow and to thrive. It conveys: You are either growing or dying. This is “true” of nature. This is the natural order of things.
I confirm that I’ve felt stagnant for some time and want to live in a new locale that inspires and energizes me. Tree tells me to do it. I ask how. In my mind’s eye, Tree gives me an image of a colorful Burpee seed catalog and the notion that it’s putting it in these terms because my question is a human one. Humans ship seeds and plant them where they want to grow them. This is you. Decide where you want to be planted and place an order.
I chuckle at this analogy, which makes perfect sense. Now I drop into a forward-thinking state. “I want a beautiful space with a walnut tree or some sort of greeting tree just like you in the front yard. I can imagine it but the reality of it seems so far off. What now? What is my next step?”
Tree instructs me to let nature take its course.
I ponder this, not sure I’m properly translating the tree’s intended meaning. “You mean just be patient, be still?”
Tree corrects me: No. Look at me. I am not in stasis. I am actively thriving, growing my fruit, little by little. It may be imperceptible to most but a lot is happening. How do you think I have a harvest in the fall?
“Okay, so I will continue to make small, steady strides toward my harvest goal.”
Tree: Like I said, grow and thrive, but let nature take its course. Do you understand?
A sense of courage overcomes me and I breathe it in deep. Yes, I get it. I want to feel this way—hopeful that the best is yet to come, happy at the chance to create on a clean slate, and yes, FREE . . . free from the high maintenance that this beloved home and property requires.
What is my vision of this new home? I ask my journal and write in response: A comfy, cottage-y type bungalow that is quaint but has a spacious feeling of flow and warmth. As I write, the details fill in vividly—a bright central living area and ample kitchen for family to gather and make new memories. A spacious second-story writer’s loft overlooking rolling hills and gardens with wisteria and peonies. Paint horses and longhorn cattle grazing on adjacent farms. A modern farmhouse that is airy, billowy, fresh, neat, a canvas for the imagination . . . and has a mature walnut tree in the front yard to greet neighbors and passersby.
I close my notebook and thank Tree for its guidance. My sadness has dissipated, and I have returned to my senses with such high optimism that I feel giddy. I am ready to plant seeds, sprout and grow elsewhere, spreading joy along with way.
About a year later, I find the house of my dreams in another town down south. It is precisely what I described in my journal that day—down to an ancient walnut tree in the front yard. I am, once more, home.
Do you have a story to tell in which the trees instructed you to “uproot or stay firmly planted”, the clouds imparted a clear answer to a dilemma, or a rock formation revealed to you your life mission?
These types of profound experiences connect us back to our own essential nature. They are stories worth retelling so others can be inspired and open to the possibility of Divine experiences in their own lives.
You are invited to submit your 800 – 2200 word true, personal story and join Ana Maria Vasquez in her upcoming book NATURE: Divine Experiences with Trees, Plants, Stones and Landscapes. There is no cost to submit your story. Click NATURE for more info.
Or have you had a mystical encounter with an angel, guide, or ancestor? Possibly with an animal or in a meditation? Here is your chance to share it in one of our other upcoming books.
Submissions for 800 – 2200 word true, personal stories are being accepted through June 30, 2021. Send us yours as early as you can, as we have limited space and some of the books are already filling up! There is no cost to submit your story. Click COMMON SENTIENCE for more info!