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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Why Hug a Tree - Or To At Least Pay More Attention To One
Article ID: 12862
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Silver Thunderbird
Posted: March 8th. 2009
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Sitting in the lawn, looking up at the tree in the back yard last night while waiting for my husband to finish mowing the weeds in the alley, I noticed that the mid-September weather had already started turning just a few of the leaves this gorgeous color of lemon yellow. The rest of the huge old cottonwood's leaves were still a vibrant beautiful green, and he had already started dropping some leaves, as if to get ready for the harsh winters we usually get out here.
Technically, he is in my neighbor's yard, but he is so close to the fence, that he hangs over and shades mostly just my back yard, almost like he just wants to be part of the family. My neighbor told me a while back, that years ago the person that owned his home had gone down to the old dried up creek bed, and dug up four trees, and brought them back, planting them in his yard. Since then, the other three had died, and this was the only transplant left.
Since I bought my home a little over a year ago, I have had an affinity for this tree, a strange connection that has steadily grown stronger. I find myself looking to it for strength after a bad day, or a particularly trying conversation with my mother, or an argument with my husband. Somehow, it always gives me something to think about.
Lately, I've been battling what it means to me to be Pagan. How someone can classify himself or herself as something and change their lifestyle and beliefs, but then feel a longing for what used to be. I feel alone. Still being in the "broom closet", I have days that are very trying, and sometimes I feel like it is simply too much, and to just give in and 'follow the norm' again because it's easier.
So, I sat there, almost in tears, trying to figure out why I felt the way I felt. I don’t want to give in, but at the same time, I don't want to feel this solitude. But what would truly be easier? Following a path that felt like a lie to me? Or turning my back on myself? My husband is supportive, and is wonderful about it, but there are times I wish I could be open to the rest of the world.
And I feel like the tree knows.
I sat looking at the colors of the leaves, imagining at first that I was the tree, having most of me feel one way, while just a small portion of me was different. The green being this overwhelming sense of who I am, as a Pagan, as a woman. The Yellow being the portion of me that feels that I should choose tradition over soul.
Then I felt the tree was telling me something different… That I wasn't the tree, that the tree was the sense of faith, and that I wasn't as big as I originally thought I was, but much smaller… I was a leaf. I was one of the gorgeous bright lemon yellow leaves. One that had started life one way, grew, and morphed, and had weathered the storms all spring, one that spent most of its life in the sun, following the norm, being green. Until one day, something inside of it started to change, started to realize a difference in it that was different than the others. And now changes had taken place, it is yellow; it is a beautiful yellow, bright and vibrant.
Being yellow doesn't make that leaf any less a part of that tree, just as being Pagan doesn't make me any less of a part of my family or my community. It makes me simply different. And frankly, I'd prefer to be different. Granted, I live in a community where being Pagan unfortunately isn't something that is taken kindly to, so allowing myself to be open to the world isn't quite as easy for me as it is to that bright "yellow in your face" leaf, but hey. Sure, it would be easier at times to be one of the yellow leaves that is in a cluster, a whole branch of yellow leaves that are able to be yellow together, but its okay. I don't mind being the one yellow leaf over here, or the one over there. Just as long as I'm yellow.
Then, the wind started to blow, whipping my hair around my face, and the branches of the tree started to sway gracefully back and forth, and some of the leaves began to fall out of the tree. It wasn't just the yellow leaves, but green ones as well, telling me that regardless of which faith you are, unfortunately our lives on this "tree" will end, and it's up to us to hang on as hard as we can. If we can't bend with the wind, then we have no chance of holding on to our faith.
If someone taunts me, or tries to push my buttons, to either let them, or do something about it. But either way, I have to be flexible enough to keep my faith, because it is so easy to lose.
Sitting under that tree last night, I remembered last winter, watching some of the leaves still holding their ground in February. One of the strongest winter storms we had was in February, snow being measured in feet, rather than inches; cold beyond cold, yet those few leaves were still holding on.
Remembering that, reminded me to hold on to my faith, even if everything seems hopeless. Even if I feel like I'm the only Pagan left on the earth, it's still important enough to me to stand my ground.
Then, there is family. Mixed religions under one roof, which can be very difficult for some people, my mother included. But, I noticed, that there were yellow leaves and green leaves both on the same branch. I could be Pagan and still be part of my family.
I can be a beautiful yellow leaf next to a beautiful green one, and that's okay. Being Pagan doesn’t need to have any effect on my mother or my husband or our future children. But if it does, that's okay. Maybe they'll turn yellow too, but it was my choice to become yellow, it would have to be their independent choice too. And I'll be happy with them green for the rest of their lives, too. Hopefully, when I decide to come out of the broom closet, they will be okay with me being yellow.
I sat alone for a while, then my husband joined me and we sat there until the moon was high, just starting to wane after the full moon the night before, and as happens fairly often, I once again was glad to be Pagan.
Thank you, tree.
Blessed Be, Everyone. ;)
Location: Limon, Colorado
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