How about when you finally
take a stand for the truth inside yourself?
When you decide that you’d rather spread joy
than bring pain,
and you’d live as the being you are
rather than the person someone told you
you should be…
how does that feel?
Could you drop the old beliefs
as gracefully as a tree lets go of leaves
and make room for your heart’s desires?
Tree, could you draw your sap
all the way inside to center,
look deeper, and ask for a revelation?
As you stand cold and naked in the darkness,
waiting for the light and warmth
of the rebirth,
What were the seeds you sowed,
and how was your harvest?
Which seeds have you saved
for the plantings in the spring?
And can you turn inwards now fearlessly,
embracing the self that remains
when the old, dry and useless fall away?
Looking up through the tall trees
to see clouds drifting
in an immense blue sky,
I realize how truly small I am.
I breathe and move from pose to pose,
remembering the impermanence of this life
in which the only constant is change.
I take pleasure in the sensations
in the sound of a bullfrog chuckling nearby,
in the feeling of a gentle, warm wind
kissing my face.
No human has ever grown to the height
of the black walnut and the tulip poplars
that grace me with their cooling shade
as I dive deeper inwards and face my own fire.
Practicing beside these towering giants
I am humbled.
Suddenly my problems
don’t seem so big after all.
I will miss you Kalyanamitta
When I walked I looked for you
and you were always there.
Towering above the petty concerns of the world,
roots deep in the earth
majestic, strong, old, wise,
you provided solace when the world’s chaos
threatened to engulf me.
I wrapped my arms around you, dear friend,
although you were so grand I could only hold
a fraction of your splendor
and I soaked in your stability, your peace,
your way of being here quietly
with a solid presence
and a most graceful air.
How many seasons did you weather
before they took you down,
and what were your last thoughts
as the saws approached you?
You, in your wisdom, probably
breathed and flowed into your next form
uncomplainingly, without fear.
Might I follow your path of peaceful dissolution,
holding on to nothing of this changing life
but welcoming the impermanence
as I welcome my next inhalation.
I will honor your life dear friend,
I will not forget you, my Kalyanamitta.
I was shocked to discover this evening that my favorite tree had been taken down some time ago. Already grass seedlings were sprouting up in the place where the tree once stood. They had done a good job at removing the stump…one could almost say that the tree was never there to begin with. But I know better. I always made it a point to visit the tree and give it a hug when I was out on walks; by its size I’m guessing it was about 200 years old and its magnificence inspired me. I named it Kalyanamitta after the Buddhist notion of a spiritual friend, because the tree embodied all the qualities I would seek in such a friend—stability, presence, peacefulness, longevity, wisdom, ageless beauty. To see the empty spot where the tree once stood left me speechless. I walked over to the empty place, crouched down, and wondered why my dear friend was gone. The picture above was taken May 4 of this year…all of that beautiful green growth led me to believe that it was a perfectly healthy tree. Now I can only trust that perhaps the tree was sick or suffering in some way and that it was an act of compassion to take it down. But I grieve. I’m mourning my Kalyanamitta.