Who speaks for trees?

At the entrance to the cedar’s grove, the old tree pushed me backwards and knocked me over from the distance.

Surrender.

I paused in awe. Tears filled my eyes. I slowly surrendered. An eternity passed. I accepted that this was not my time to enter, that I had been too hasty and too preoccupied with my own thoughts and projections, that I hadn’t been listening to her. In this very moment she invited me to come closer.

Listen.

My eyes beheld a golden leaf before me, reflecting the sunlight. I felt my body rise and walk, yet it was not I who rose and walked. I slowly followed the golden light into the grove, inwardly reciting the ancient poem “The Mistress of Vision“. Half way towards her, I waited and listened to the mosquitoes humming “no, no, no” until their song changed.

Ask.

I asked to approach her. Will you allow me to receive you? I came closer. She accepted in silence. I sank to the ground before her, filled with awe.

Rise. Feel your roots.

I rose up to stand tall before her, stretching out my hands to become a tree like her. My feet were rooted firmly, yet gently, on the ground.

Rise up, stand tall. If you do not rise, I will fall.

I wept. What can I, a single human, possibly do to change this course? I wept for her, for all of her kind, for all of our kind … for all beings.

Speak. You must speak up.

I promised her, in some kind of language that I could not understand. Enthralled by the mosquitoes not biting me, not even attempting to, she taught me again to ask. I asked the mosquitoes to refrain from sucking my blood unless their lives depended on it, for then I would willingly give it to them. They spared me, humming. I knelt down again.

Enter me. Come inside me.

I closed my eyes, weeping again in gratitude – how much you trust me! – me, a man who was only learning how to listen, and yet a man who was willing to surrender to just that. I dared not enter her fully, yet I sensed a budding glimpse of our spiritual union.

Feel me.

I reached out my hands, very slowly, listening to who it really was that spoke. Trusting, I placed one hand on her leg, or was it her hand? I touched her. I gently placed my other hand on her. I feel you! I was learning how to feel her. You are alive!

Remember. Remember my brothers and sisters.

I rose up and looked around me. With new eyes I saw their sentience, I saw her brothers and sisters whom she was lending her voice. Yes, I will speak up for you all. I will honor you. I felt complete and began to leave.

Remember.

I stumbled and fell backwards again. She wasn’t done with me yet.

Remember my brothers and sisters. You are among them, too.

I saw a yellow leaf resting on the trunk of a tree before me. Are you mine to pick up? I asked permission. I held the leaf up high, and suddenly three other leaves were falling around me. Clearly, the one that landed before my feet was mine to bring back. I carefully placed that first one back on its trunk and picked up mine. Finally I left the grove, focusing on my steps, filled with a knowing that I did not need to look back.

Don’t look back, remember. Remember us.

— based on a journal entry on Monday, 22nd June 2019 @ Seattle, Washington, USA.

The Meaning of Ithaca

We are all on journeys – the journey of life, and its many quests that lead to new worlds in space and time. Once again I am back home on the road. A friend of mine sent me this amazing poem:

Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy

When you set out on the voyage to Ithaca,
pray that your journey may be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge.
Of the Laestrygones and the Cyclopes,
and of furious Poseidon, do not be afraid,
for such on your journey you shall never meet
if your thought remain lofty, if a select
emotion imbue your spirit and your body.
The Laestrygones and the Cyclopes
and furious Poseidon you will never meet
unless you drag them with you in your soul,
unless your soul raises them up before you.
Pray that your journey may be long,
that many may those summer mornings be
when with what pleasure, what untold delight
you enter harbors you’ve not seen before;
that you stop at Phoenician market places
to procure the goodly merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and voluptuous perfumes of every kind,
as lavish an amount of voluptuous perfumes as you can;
that you venture on to many Egyptian cities
to learn and yet again to learn from the sages.
But you must always keep Ithaca in mind.
The arrival there is your predestination.
Yet do not by any means hasten your voyage.
Let it best endure for many years,
until grown old at length you anchor at your island
rich with all you have acquired on the way.
You never hoped that Ithaca would give you riches.
Ithaca has given you the lovely voyage.
Without her you would not have ventured on the way.
She has nothing more to give you now.
Poor though you may find her, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Now that you have become so wise, so full of experience,
you will have understood the meaning of an Ithaca.

When I read this poem I felt inspired. Yet when I recited it to two friends on Sunday, I got completely overwhelmed, and my voice cracked numerous times, and I cried passionate tears of unknown origin in the middle of the restaurant in the heart of Berlin. Something is happening, shifting, finding its way to express itself through me, while Ithaca guides me on my path and inspires my every footstep, breath and heartbeat. May it inspire you as well!