I've been studying how people learn new things for years. It's clear that our mindset is a necessary precondition: we need to be open to learning.
The corollary is that if our minds are made up, we handily ignore any information that doesn't fit.
Our Guest Post today by Gudrun Bellerjeau shows that it's not just the willfully blind who do not see. Maybe, just maybe, there are voices speaking out around us that we have but to listen for to hear.
As this gray and wintry day slips into evening I share some experiences, separated by about 50 years, that left a most important impression on my life.
Looking out over the snow and ice-covered fields I see our little pine tree, tied to a metal post. The birds are busy getting seeds from the feeding blocks hanging from the little skinny branches of what was our Christmas tree last year. If you have seen Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, well this poor little thing was worse off.
My husband Bill had disappeared into our forest, and returned after almost 1 ½ hours, covered completely with snow, after searching for “IT” in an overgrown area, where we had planted hundreds of spruce and pine trees many, many years ago.
Trying not to be critical, when I saw this scrawny semblance of a tree, I of course had to ask: “What is this?”
Most of the bottom branches were gone, followed by a bunch of dried-up ones in the middle. The top few feet had needles on the branches, thus qualifying the tree. The still green branches were spread out expansively, as if striving for light and rain, saying: “Hey, up here, I am here.”
The tree had been trying to grow amid many other, much bigger and robust trees. It had grown about 18 feet tall, but with limited sunshine and moisture, managed only to keep the top branches alive.
Figuring that this little tree was not very happy growing under such cramped conditions, it was the one Bill selected for our Christmas tree.
We set up the tree in a big jardiniere filled with sand.
It was while getting decorations down from their dedicated annual space, and contemplating what could be done to fill all the “empty spaces” and hide the long straggly branches, that the little tree very clearly spoke to me. (To my mind, I should say, no actual voice):
Why did you kill me? I did not want to die. I was happy where I was living.
You can only imagine my sorrow and sadness on hearing this. Of course, I told it, straight from my heart, that I was really sorry and that we would honor it by making it a beautiful and treasured Christmas tree.
This was the second time a little pine tree voiced its sadness about being cut down and killed and spoke to me.
The first time a tree spoke to me in this manner was about 50 years ago.
I had asked our oldest son, who was about 8 or 9 at the time, to please get a little tree for the shop, which is in a 200-year-old barn. Having worked to make everything look festive for the Christmas season, I figured a little tree would be beautiful.
Billy, the sweet little guy, came back with a small and sparsely branched tree. Again Charlie Brown came to mind. However, I said, it’s fine.
Working on other things around the area, suddenly, the little tree said, clear as a bell:
Why did you kill me, I did not want to die.
I was shocked, of course, but assured the little tree I would make it the most beautiful Christmas tree ever. Which I did.
This experience left a deep and lasting impression on me and deepened my already great love and appreciation for nature.
The result of this tree speaking to me was that we never cut another tree in all these years.
- Either we purchased a live tree that we planted in the Springtime so it could grow,
- or we found out that when leaving some branches on the tree and several rows of them on the bottom, one would take over and make a new top. Hence the tree was alive and growing and we just used the top part for our Christmas tree.
And I heard no complaints. I was very happy with this solution. Until this year, when our well-meant action gave rise to the same conversation.
Unless you have experienced something similar, you might easily think that I am crazy or otherwise impaired. But it is absolutely the truth.
The more time you spend in nature, away from human “intervention,” the more you quietly listen, you will hear Nature speaking to you. All around us is alive and has a consciousness of its own, every bit as valid as ours.
We usually are just much too busy with our important worldly pursuits to give things around us a second thought. They are just there.
Wrong in so many ways! They sustain us, they are aware of us and our doings. Let us respect and treasure them and treat them as our fellow travelers.
They make our lives beautiful, besides being essential.
Hit reply to tell me what's on your mind or write a comment directly on Klugne. If you received this mail from a friend and would like to subscribe to my free weekly newsletter, click here.