Jewish mysticism teaches us that each living being is a unique vessel bearing the same divine light. The vessel is our physicality, each one molded, chipped or fractured in a totally unique way by our individual experiences gathered in the passage of years in the physical world. The choices we make, the ability to forgive others and ourselves, the level of our own awakened consciousness helps or hinders the light we let shine. The light within is the source of all spiritual and religious traditions, such as those presented this afternoon, shining through different vessels revealing how much we all have in common. Where do we find the teachings that help us shine?
Many have read the book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Perhaps a variation on the theme could be “everything I need to know I learned from the tree in my garden.” I want take her lessons to heart. This wonderful teacher, tall and strong, stretches her huge branches giving shade not only to us but to the many finches and hummingbirds who gather in her shelter. From her protective being-ness, I learn presence. In be-ing, I remove myself from worries of the past and anxieties about an unknown future. Presence. Oneness. I breathe – therefore I am.
She reminds me that there is a natural order to living peaceably. When I look closely, I note that her strong branches emerge from her powerful trunk not in some haphazard way as it may first appear, rather her branches spiral out from the center in an ordered fashion, each one emerging distant enough from the one that came before to make sure the older branches have room to grow too and can access to sunlight for their leaves. From her symmetry, I learn about sharing resources which I need to practice more mindfully this year.
True – her roots do lift and crack the paving stones of our deck, but she was there first, and will be there long after we have gone. From her, I learn resilience and forbearance that I know serve us well as the increasing winds of rapid change blow through our lives.
I relish her silence. She is. At day’s end, ever so easily, she loosens her grip on those leaves whose time has come. She releases them to make way for the new growth. Oh, at the end of each day, to be able to drop regrets, frustrations and upsets that cloud our inner light, as lightly as she releases her leaves. These are some of Nature’s silent, yet obvious lessons we can learn when we still the busyness of or lives.