I live in a maple-pine ecosystem with many sugar maples, with maple syrup a popular product at the farmer’s markets. This is an excerpt from a reflection on the wonder of maple trees.
Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.
Karen I. Shragg
Scott Russell Sanders, an American essayist and naturalist, once wrote: “It occurs to me that meditation is an effort to become for a spell more like a tree, open to whatever arises, without judging, without remembering the past or anticipating the future, fully present in the moment. The taste of that stillness refreshes me. When we surface from meditation, however, we are not turning from reality to illusion, as some spiritual traditions would have us believe; we are reclaiming the full powers of mind, renewed by our immersion in the realm of mountains and rivers, wind and breath.”
The full powers of mind. This is one of the strengths of our faith as Unitarian Universalists. We come together seeking transcendence – and knowledge – in both science and spiritual traditions. We become like trees and we learn from trees. Like Madonna, we know we live in a material world, so we seek to pay attention to the everyday, like a sugar maple in spring. As UUs, we explore, celebrate, and struggle with that tension of living both on the earth and within the mystery. We follow Earth Scholar Thomas Berry, who said: “The universe, the solar system, and the planet earth in themselves and in their evolutionary emergence constitute for the human community the primary revelation of that ultimate mystery whence all things emerge into being.”
The earth and the mystery – the yin and yang that frame our faith – are intertwined. We are grateful for both.
We are grateful for the wondrous presence of maple trees.
When I Am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
~ Mary Oliver ~