Standing Still Beneath Blowing Branches (Lessons Learned from Trees)

Standing still beneath blowing branches.

Lessons learned from trees.


old leaf in new snow


These are changing times.

Turmoil around, within.  I stand beneath budding branches, the promise of the continual struggle of life, and suddenly it all makes sense, or maybe nothing matters, and everything finds its place.  Can I let myself cry, selfishly, foolishly, like an innocent child so wanting comfort in hard times yet not knowing how to ask?

Late spring in the high mountains. I write from home on the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness, high and away in the heart of the Headwaters of the Rio Grande in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. I am flanked by a hundred thousand acres of charred woods and a few hundred thousand acres more of dead standing beetle kill and Aspen fading and falling randomly. A forest full of kindling waiting to ignite. Finding new growth, green needles, sweet sap, life existing, tenaciously holding or ferociously fighting to survive.  Life is precious.

In all their simplicity.  Trees.

Go through it.  Let it out.  Tears fall like raindrops. Nourishment to parched lands and thirsty roots.    No one to hear them fall but the trees. Allow it. Breathe in, breathe out, standing beside a tree.

These are the wise ones. They carry not a passing fancy but wisdom of the ages.  Powerful, deep and rich. They make no loud claims, but hold their ground, tangled in their roots.  Powerless to the pretenses of our demands, greed and ignorance. Eternal, I used to think.

Here they have lost ground. We have been hit hard by the changes.  A sign of things to come, a premonition, or is this just a warning to heed?  Are we too late, and does it matter anyway?

Here our children’s children will never know the old growth through which I used to wander.

Even in their ethereal presence, this graveyard of barren branches, I feel them breathe.  I hear them sigh. Down deep if no where else than in their roots, the soil, the earth. That’s where life remains. And life will come again.

Standing on fallen needles and listening to the Wisdom of the trees.

Breathing in, breathing out, seeking the scent of fresh sap and plump needles. I have almost forgotten.

These are the lessons they teach.

Stand with me now, still and silent beneath bare branches of a seemingly lifeless tree.  Close your eyes.  In the wild spring wind, feel the remaining presence of these great beings.  Listen to their wisdom.

This is what we hear:


aspen in snow


The earth matters. Give more than you take.

You can’t control the seasons. Learn to let go.

You can’t rush the seasons.  Practice patience.

You can’t change the weather.  Stand tall in the rain and dance in the wind.

Storms come, storms go, the sun will shine again.

Be still and listen.

Be wordless.  (So hard for a writer to do.)  That’s where our truths are found.  (Write about them later.)

Everything changes.

Seasons come and seasons go.

Leaves fall and blossoms return time and time again.

Life stems where you least expect it.

Last year’s leaves are next year’s fertile soil.

Be willing to shed and grow again.

Be grounded. Grow your roots deep and strong.

We share the same soil. Our roots are connected. We are one.

Stand tall and strong, not hard and rigid.

Be flexible in adverse conditions.

Learn to bend in the wind.


Seeds blow in the wind – new life starts where you least expect.

Be willing to break new ground.

Don’t expect ideal conditions.

Grow where they least expect it.

Know you are never alone. Others will grow beside you, and together, you can create a forest.

Look around at others growing above and below you. Respect differences.   We need each other.

Provide shelter to those who need it.

Nurture indiscriminately.  Practice non-judgment.

Give what you can, and then give more.

Don’t take it personally, and you can’t change others.  All you can do is grow.

Allow the world to come and go around you.

Learn to let go.

Nothing lasts forever.


looking down to reservoir





8 thoughts on “Standing Still Beneath Blowing Branches (Lessons Learned from Trees)

  1. One thing literally jumped off the screen and flew right in my face because the truth of it is so profound. ” Be willing to shed and grow again.” I wish it were in big giant bold faced letters plastered across the sky. I see so many people that I just want to shake and say “Why, of WHY do you think you can’t begin again?”. We are allowed to make as many new starts as God has given us time in this life to make. U-turns and turns to the right and left and stops and new starts. We are SO NOT STUCK. You are right. The trees know. One branch falls off and another sprouts to take it’s place. A tree dies and a flower is nourished.
    You got it Gin!

    • Yes indeed, Elizabeth. I think of how many are stuck, and feel that way myself from time to time, yet love the challenge of change. I think it is fear which holds us back more often than not. I have heard God gives us only what we can handle, in hopes of challenging us to learn and grow. And I wonder, for those times we are – or those people we see – stuck, is it not our fear blinding us from opportunities and challenges God puts before us?

  2. Lovely words and sentiment. I too live in a forest of trees, California Live Oaks, and share those same feelings. It’s so wonderful to connect with someone through their art and appreciation of nature. Thank you.

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