Everyday I pass her. Her branches caress the clouds in the sky. She has lived on this land for a thousand years. If there were two of me, we couldn’t stretch wide enough to hold her in our arms. She is not meant to be possessed. I do wish to sit under leaves and cool myself from a warm July sun.
I sit under her branches. Her leaves fill my eyes. I wonder what it would be like to travel above the cool darkness and sit in the light on her strong branch. I want to try. I feel I must ask her if I may climb her. I honor her to much to start climbing without her blessing. I also fear her too much. If I do not ask, I may ascend twenty feet in the air on branches that do not wish to hold me and be sent crashing to the earth below. So I shall ask her.
“Dear Tree of a Thousand Years, sitting under your cooling leaves, I have let my eyes wonder upwards to where the sun touches you. I have longed to climb to this place of light and feel the sun on my face. May I climb to where the sun may touch both of us?”
The Tree of a Thousand Years speaks to me in the wind.
“You sit under my branches peacefully. You never grab a leaf or charge up my trunk. I feel you are a gentle loving soul. You may climb and know that as you hold on to me I will hold on to you. I will not let you fall.”
I listen to my companion. As I rise to my feet, a fear seizes my gut. I have never climbed a tree before, I think to myself. Do I have the strength, the courage and the knowledge?
The Tree senses my fear and says,
“Feel my bark against your feet and begin.”
I take off my shoes and socks. I feel her bark under my feet, with my heart beating madly, I begin my climb. On this tree there aren’t any low branches. No way to boost myself up. I must find the sturdy crevices and cracks in her bark. I find a crevice two feet off the ground. I put my toes into it. I pull myself up. Also feel my muscles begin to tense. This is a five inch dent, not enough room for all my toes to feel secure. I wrap my arms around her trunk. My mouth is pressed to her bark.
“Please don’t let me fall.”
I hear a voice in the wind tell me.
“Look for the next crevice.”
I search for the next place where I can rest. I see it a foot above me. I lift my body to reach it. I do. This time there is more room to stand. I can rest both feet on this ledge as I look for another place. I am breathing for the moment. I look up to look for another crevice, but all I see is smooth bark for three feet. I grunt and moan.
“Oh, please get me up this tree.”
I drag my body up. As I rest again my arm muscles shout to myself
“Was that necessary!?”
I answer back,
Then I hear the Tree say
“That was a struggle for you but you did it. Your muscles can support your body. You can. You are enough. See the next place rest?”
There just above me is the first branch. I climb on to it and sit for a moment. I look up. I see I am I am at least half way there. Above me I can see the rays of sun streaming through the leaves. I feel golden light on my face.
Four feet above me is another branch. I stretch my arm out to grasp it but I can’t reach it. I know what I am going to have to do l. pull myself up the tree up to the next branch. But I notice that I don’t groan so much this time. I think to myself, I can climb this tree. Looking down I see how far I have come, fifteen feet.
I am almost above the leaves. I feel warm inside. I am sweating from the climb. I also feel warmth in some other place in me that has been cold for so long. This warmth is in my fingertips, my legs, in my eyes, even in my hair. My heart is beating not from fear but from this new feeling. I feel the Tree under my fingers. Her bark is firm but she is melting and I am melting. I laugh out loud,
“I love you Tree.”
She speaks clearly now, not from the wind but from herself
“I love you too Eve. You are almost there.”
I say with joy,”I know.”
Now the climb leads me from branch to branch. Branches are closer together. I need only to stand on one branch to walk on to another. As I continue, the yellow light tenderly covers my body. When I reach the highest branch, I sing.
“I did it! I can climb a very special tree. I can sit in the sun.”
The Sun and The Tree of a Thousand Years join together in one voice,
Up there on the branch in the sun is a place where I do feel good enough. I know that I am somebody. Feeling good enough helps me to be truly myself with others. I stop covering myself up. I am okay. I am not horrible. I can be with other people. This is a new feeling for me. I trust myself more and more.