As I drive by the bay in San Francisco...
and feel my heart leap just a bit at the sight of the water and the tree-laden shore on the other side. A surprising memory surfaces. It’s a memory from a grad school class on leadership.
We were discussing decision-making, I think. I was considering PhD programs and was talking about plans to visit a campus as part of my discernment process. My professor asked me how I would know whether it was the right place for me, and I remember having a hard time explaining. I said something along the lines of “I’d just know.” I really meant that I’d have an intuitive sense, but didn’t have the words for it. So, when asked a follow up question about HOW I would know, I said something like, “I don’t know, maybe the trees?” It was an urban campus I was looking at, so trees were not a given.
My professor laughed and said I was probably the only person in the world who would make a decision about a PhD programs based on the trees. I felt ashamed, but also somehow, I knew he was missing something.
I’d had the realization a while ago that it was my intuition (which is typically spot on, by the way) that wasn’t being valued, but it didn’t hit me until just now that the tree thing was also way more valid than I realized. Trees are a LIFELINE for me. I have lived in various forms of urban areas most of my adult life and I used to long to move to the woods. I still do to some extent except I want to take the diverse people and foods of the city with me.
My point is that one day I realized that I could be okay if I could see just one tree from my window. Sure, I wanted to see lots of trees, but just one was enough. I could draw strength and nourishment from one.
So if the me I am today was in that classroom again I’d own my tree point.
I’d go on to tell this white, male historian (who I should note in many other ways and in many other moments really respected and honored me and my gifts; human beings are complicated and imperfect after all)...anyway, I’d tell him,
“Yes, the trees will probably tell me what I need to know about the place.”
They’d tell my body. They’d tell my heart. They’d tell my Spirit as they have done for many others before me.
It’s just that in my culture of origin those who knew how to listen to the trees this have been mostly silenced...
The more earth-based religions and cultures, the mystical of all religions and spiritual paths...
The so-called witches burned at the stake often for the crime of using plants for healing - they were not exactly revered as wise women where I came from.
But now that I know that there are a few other ways of knowing that are just as valid as books and logic etc. - and science is even starting to back up the mystics on this!
Now that I know...
I’d tell him he’s missing out if he doesn’t know that the trees speak.
You AMAZING one. You might not hear the trees, but I know you hear something from someplace you can’t quite describe.
A wisdom that doesn’t “make sense.”
I know because otherwise you wouldn't have read this far.
Perhaps you experience it as what the Bible calls a “still, small voice.” Perhaps you get a sense of your path through your dreams, or your animals.
And trust that knowing.
It’s how you’ll lead us all towards healing. I know it.
If you would like help on your journey of listening, trusting, and towards your own knowing...schedule a FREE 15-minute chat with me here. I'd love to hear what's showing up for you.
Here's to Thriving and Equity.