The first time I saw a Madrone tree I was mesmerized and completely lit up inside. I couldn’t believe how beautifully the red skin peeled off the smooth and sensuous green trunk & branches.

Everything about Madrone trees resonates with me. Seeing them helps me answer a deep question I’ve always had that I didn’t ever know how to verbalize or even fully understand. When I am near a Madrone tree, I feel peace, excitement, mystery and a sacred quality in the surrounding air.

Years ago one of my first spirit teachers gave me the task of finding a talking stick. She didn’t tell me how to find it, only that I would know when I did. It was one of the first times I opened myself to allowing the natural world to teach me and lead me where I needed to go.

I ended up climbing a tree and as the branch I was standing on broke and I fell, I grabbed another branch that also broke off in my hand.

The branch in my hand was from a Madrone tree. The spot where I grabbed it had a perfectly curved part that held my hand. I call it the Holding Hands talking stick. It has taught me to listen first and to speak from that place of deep listening.

Mostly it is a beautiful understanding of what we seek finding us and meeting us in places we never imagined being met.

There’s no question that sometimes we know instinctively who and what is for us, but it doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth sailing just because we recognize a resonance or impactful alignment. Life is still falling out of trees, being shocked as we find ourselves on the earth, off balance and dirty.

Sometimes life is standing still in the wind to be touched by a force greater, softer, more gentle and more ruthless than I can imagine. Life is walking off trails on ungroomed earth to feel the variations and imperfections and noticing how the grass grows higher in the shadow of the tree and how it looks as a breeze comes through.

Life is listening to how eucalyptus leaves in the wind can sound like water running and the sound of the fog dripping off the leaves is like raindrops falling abundantly even when it isn’t raining.

I feel the shift in my awareness when I understand how places are connected by seeing land from high above. I watch people hiking together with a twinge in my heart and notice that I am usually alone.

I climb the steepest hill even though I wasn’t going to push myself today. I’m wondering at all the moment to moment updates, pangs, tears, and joys that make up my thoughts, there will always be more as long as I am breathing. Observing the details of my path is what there is to do.

Minding my own business is the best way to let go of being angry, confused, or aghast about anything. Doubling down on minding my own business is the way I want to go forward.

Life is walking away when it’s time, but then sometimes coming back for more of what didn’t work before. Knowing I need to walk away again, and trying to find the right moment to take the right action that will hurt now and heal over time. Creating the moment and actually walking away to continue my journey. They are all important steps to moving forward at my own pace.

The sturdy stump of a tree is a perfect place to sit and reflect, and to let a knowing arise from within. I like making use of stumps as benches to take a moment to just sit still as the old man in The Giving Tree did.

After taking in all this beauty and wisdom, there is a residue, a deep sadness in understanding that I’ve been carrying the weight of feeling ugly like a heavy sweater that itches and doesn’t fit right but I can’t quite shed it yet because I’m cold.

I’m the only one here to judge my ugliness, and as I try for more grace with myself, I often fail. My beauty is hidden from me in every moment that I try to be anyone other than my authentic self.

I never look at a tree and think, how ugly… I always think, how perfectly unique and glorious.

My prayer is to see myself with the eyes, heart and mind that I see trees. I look with love and let myself be filled with wonder. Please let me fill myself up with that love and wonder from the inside too.

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