I stood on a hill top this morning, looking down across a meadow and further out across the waters of Puget Sound. The deep greens of the trees and grasses were accented by the dark blue of the water and the dark grays and brilliant whites of the low hanging clouds that seemed to be deciding whether or not they were going to release the storm they held. About halfway down the meadow stood a tree stump that must have been fifteen feet in diameter and ten feet high. Wildflowers and the long vines of wild berries spilled out from the top of the stump, flowed down the sides, and created a swirl of color around the base.
Here on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest, I have become fascinated by what seems to be a long-standing tradition of cutting the huge cedars and other trees that have fallen, presumably due to lightening-strike, eight to ten feet above the ground. Certainly in California and other places where I have lived, trees are taken down to ground level and the stumps are completely removed if possible. By leaving the base of the tree standing, it becomes home for small wildlife and a place for other plant life to take hold and begin to grow, and ultimately to nourish the soil as it decomposes. Some of the trees regenerate and grow out of the stumps, reaching the same height as the surrounding trees. These tree stump garden sculptures add beauty to the landscape and hold the energetic place for the giant that was lost to the ravages of Nature. They are a place where life begins again.
Sometimes, we suffer the lightning strikes of life: the end of a long term relationship, the death of a loved one, the abrupt end of a long-held dream or goal. And then, we must begin again. We may want to stop, to just come to an end somehow, but life will not allow us to do that. So we gather the resources and the energy that we need to in order to start our process of re-growth and bring new life to the part(s) of ourselves that have become dead to us.
Instead of clear-cutting ourselves, I think it’s better to hold the image of these grand old trees that still stand to offer hope for new growth and continued life. We know, or we will figure out soon enough, what parts of ourselves we had given over to the other person or the circumstance and what parts of ourselves are deeply rooted. How much needs to be cut away, and how tall is the core of us that remains? Clean-cut does not mean clear-cut; just as the wood deadened by the lightning strike must be cut away but the rest can remain to nurture new growth, we can honor the sturdy parts of ourselves and open to receiving that which will come to us and root itself within us.
I am in the process of doing this very thing. It is most of why I have come to the Pacific Northwest. Certainly, a great part of it is those ever-present clouds and their mists, rains, and hail. It was also the thick forests and the visual joy of the various plant life which explodes all over the landscape, so vibrant and seemingly so much more full of life than in California. These things are the resourcing that I need to complete the true task of bringing my inner self back to life. Having lost the last of my inner resourcing through spiritual betrayal, I was certainly tempted to do some internal clear-cutting. It felt for a while that my deepest roots had been affected and I could not recover any life force; there was nothing from which I could grow again. The knowledge of where to find the resourcing I need in Nature is something I have had since I was quite young, and fortunately life’s circumstances have allowed me to come to a place where I feel a strong pull towards the energy of Nature and its inherent abundance. My roots are deep and strong, and I am finding out that there is a lot more left of my core, my “trunk” if you will, than I had felt I had.
I have been shown the location of an Earth Spirit; each day as I see it, I give thanks that it has shown itself to me and that I still have the wisdom to pay attention to it. I miss my Spirit Woman Rock on the Northern California coast; a symbol of ancient wisdom and the anchor for my monthly Full Moon ceremonies. I knew that she was something that I would have to let go of in coming here, and I hoped that I would be able to retain the connection despite the great distance. I believe that I will. I also see that part of what I am letting go of is the culmination of that wisdom. That cycle, those particular lessons, are completed. And, now, this Earth Spirit shows itself in a young, almost embryonic, form. I recognize the energy of new growth and renewal in it. I accept the gift, and will use it as wisely as I can.