When I was fresh out of high school and too poor to attend college for more than a couple semesters I moved to Los Angeles to be with family. That was where I met the TreePeople group, an educated, compassionate group of individuals, led by visionary Andy Lipkis, on a mission to plant 1 million trees in the L.A. region by the arrival of the 1984 Olympics. They were at the precipice of meeting their goal when I arrived, and I had the delight of helping them add more fruit trees in the barren landscape of downtown L.A. A couple weeks after installing the new baby trees we received sad news that homeless folks, not knowing any better, had pulled out at least half of them for firewood. They did not realize that had they left the trees in place they would’ve bore free fruit for them to eat.
Here we are, 36 years later, and I’m delighted to see TreePeople is still going strong, as is the awareness of the healing power of trees, even as they are being mercilessly destroyed to make way for controversial technology such as 5G, or laid to waste for poorly thought out, over-priced construction projects. We certainly live in bipolar times! 😀
The “Druids Garden” wordpress author, Dana, whose stunning artwork, blogs and druidic wisdom has captured my attention and respect has also been sharing the deep, ancient teachings of caring for trees, the landscape, floral, fauna, and maintaining ancestral ways. She was a great support for me at a time when we lost nine cedar trees overnight in what felt like an apocalyptic winter storm. “Witness the loss, and then honor the space they once held,” she said, which I did. It was heartbreaking and I cried as I watched them lifted out by crane, cut into pieces, never to be seen again after so many years of them standing like great, protective giants around our landscape. For perhaps the first time I realized and felt how vulnerable we are, our planet is, and my heart went out to all who’ve lost their homes to natural or man-made catastrophe. To honor the space they once held, and bring blessings to the new landscape I hung colorful prayer flags I purchased from a kindly Tibetan friend. My intention being that the loving words and images from the flag material would be carried by the wind and washed by rain into the soils, easing the trauma to the land and all of us who had PTSD from the event.
Of course, anyone dialed in to trees doesn’t need scientific evidence to know how much better they feel in the presence of these great woody beings. But interestingly enough there is science to support their healing benefits.
So, today’s little blog is to remind us that it’s ok to hug a tree, in fact it’s very healthy and welcomed. If you can’t bring yourself to hug one, then just slow down, breathe deep, and touch one in your mind and thank them for their gracious, life-giving presence. They will thank you in return.