We’re only a few days into autumn and my annual tree obsession has begun. It’s way too early here to start seeing changing colors but that matters not. I’m dreaming about trees, reading about trees, having conversations with them, and imagining putting together a leaf “scrapbook” like I did as a child, collecting pretty fallen leaves and then researching what kind of tree they came from.
Hermann Hesse was a poet, novelist, and painter, constantly exploring one’s authentic nature, self-knowledge, and spiritual issues. He had a deep love for trees, and I think what he says about them is both beautiful and a powerful invitation to live in sovereign wholeness.
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.”
Such wise words!
It’s been ages since I’ve done a book review here, but I’ve got a couple of books to share. They’re about trees, and yet not the kind of trees we normally think of. But as I say, there’s nothing like expanding our definitions and understanding of things.
First up is The Paper-Flower Tree, a children’s book by Jacqueline Ayer. It’s a delightful tale from Thailand starring a little girl named Miss Moon who has a charming encounter with a peddler selling paper flowers adorning a tree he’s carrying. While she can’t afford it, Miss Moon wishes for nothing more than to have a paper flower tree of her own. The kind-hearted man gifts her with a flower and tells her, while he can’t promise, if the flower happens to have a seed and she plants it, it might well grow into her own tree. I, of course, encourage you to read the story to find out what happens, but in keeping with my practice of awarding a rating based on floriography, the language of flowers, giving a hint at the plot as well as my appraisal, I offer an Orange Tree (generosity); surrounded by White lilac (youthful innocence); Swamp Magnolia (perseverance); and Lily of the Valley (return of happiness).
Next up is The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge by Manuel Lima. It’s a delightful collection of information visualization using tree diagrams on a wide range of various subjects. The book covers 800 years of examples and I’m especially enamored of the illuminated manuscript diagrams. There’s something about this book that really appeals to my map making fascination, and I expect I’ll be turning to this repeatedly. My floriography rating for this one is a bouquet of Pink Acacia (elegance) and Angelica (inspiration).
Given that I’ve been dreaming a lot about trees lately, I can’t help but be reminded of this fabulous video I want to share Behind the Trees. I’m a huge fan of both Neil Gaiman and his wife Amanda Palmer, and this is an animated video conversation she had with sleeping Neil. Makes me smile everytime.
So what do you think? Have trees been calling to you as well? Do you believe, as I do, that trees are true wisdom keepers? Have any book recommendations to share? More of a forest or trees kind of person? Do tell – you know I love to hear.