Cedar and I were on Tinaja Ridge, above Lyons, Colorado, for an all-day outdoor retreat honoring the Fall Equinox. The morning walk was brief, just 30 minutes. I began by greeting the pine tree next to the one I had hugged the last time we were here. I thanked it out loud for being a role model of steadfastness for me. After a few snapshots on my trusty iPhone 6-Plus, I headed downhill maybe 60 yards into a frozen avalanche of pinecones.
Lesson from the Pinecones: “Some of us are gray,” one told me; “others are still brown. None of us is perfect. So stop your search, Ren. [I’d wanted a perfect one to take home.] We are all perfect just as we are. Like you.” I picked one up and asked it if it would like to go home with me. “Yes,” it replied. Then I took off my daypack and found a safe spot for it where it wouldn’t be crushed. The pinecone reminded me to hold it gently since each wooden petal had a tiny but effective sticker on it. I proceeded another 60 yards and walked up to a big flat rock. There was an aging tree on its margin.
Lesson from the Aging Tree: “Hello,” I said. “May I hold your withering branch?” “Of course,” it replied. “Brother Tree, elder brother, do you have a lesson for me?” “Yes. Just keep going, like me. My arm you’re holding is withering, but the rest of me is strong. Keep going. Your time has not yet come.” Thanking the tree, I touched the boulder with one of my poles.
Lesson from the Boulder: “Dear Brother Boulder, do you have a lesson for me?” “Yes,” it replied. “I’ve been here for a long, long time. I don’t speak much but listen to the Voice of God. It whispers and sometimes shouts, ‘Follow!’ My lesson for you is to listen and follow the Special Voice that whispers and sometimes shouts inside you.” “Thank you,” I said. “I’ll try.”
Lesson from the Dying Tree Trunk: Not 20 yards from the aging tree and the ancient rock was a horizontal tree trunk slowly but surely becoming one with the earth. Placing one of my walking sticks on her, I asked, “Sister Tree Trunk, do you have a lesson for me?” “Yes,” she responded. “Know from me that all living things die and mix themselves with the Earth. It’s okay. It just how things are. But know also that I will return, though not necessarily as a tree. As will you. We both participate in the great Holy Circle of Life. Death is but a blank page between chapters in the multi-volume Book of Living. You’re a writer. Tell this and what my other family members have share with you to your readers. Times may be hard for your now, but all things, including better times, return.” “Thank you, dear Sister,” I said. And with that, the drum calling me back to our gathering, and lunch, began to beat.
A Tinaja Ridge Tree – Fall Equinox, 2020