Have you ever been in a lecture or sermon where the dynamic, impressive and motivating speaker/author asked for a show of hands concerning your beliefs? What would your action be if asked boldly to raise your hand in front of the entire audience or congregation to the call: “Are you a “Tree Hugger”? When I experienced this call something inside me was awoken; in truth at that moment I literally had never hugged a tree. This call distracted my attention; I began to go back 43 years to the past recalling a childhood quest when I adopted a tree in the woods. Dissecting that childhood action I wondered how such an idea energized me to search, select and claim a tree that led me to bring my blanket, pillow and books where I regularly settled up against its 2 inch diameter trunk. In a childhood world of wonder a tree had in someway adopted me; a moment when mystery and the tangible met in the woods. I had in common with that tree: youthful healthy purity, leanness and brilliance each seeking a future of growth – so much potential to become BIG.
The sermon speaker’s call, continued to pull me inward; reflecting and sorting through my own applicable dramatic samples of association to bring evidence as challenged. I could not dismiss the fact that I desired to soar up my upper limbs; based on the truth I dared not for my claim of notable actions required more to merit a limb shaking proclamation. I left the sermon energized for the cause of going green; more so the “Tree Hugger” call was dropped alive deep inside me as if a seed ready to burst open evolving from the blossom of memory lane flowers.
Now at 51 I recalled the small community park event around ten years ago, a man once climbed up a huge oak tree next to the playground. This man hugged onto the tree for hours into days because he was called to prevent it’s demised; the urgency for removal was public safety. The old oak was poised with an amazing height, boasting a huge trunk diameter, celebrating a vast span of limbs and branches. That tree had a presence of almost hundred years with segments of existence which provided children protection with a shade spread of shelter over a newly replaced oddly modern metal paint coated yellow/aqua play structure. Ten years before that I discovered in the exact location the original wooden play structure where delightfully my children spun around in a blur of nature’s delicate pastel palette hues as several oak tree canopies overhead served as participatory overseers of our joyful laughter.
What the sermon speaker’s call did for me was to realize “I have played a role” with “tree-hugging”, by choice, by life events and by experience. I had successfully grown many trees over the last ten years after my divorce. I had given home grown trees as gifts and “good” tithing. I was married to a tree grower hobbyist who planted hundreds of tree-lings into the canyon ground elements around the home adjacent to the National Forest where we lived. All the tree-lings overcame their rocky soil obstacles as they continued to push thriving roots deeper in the ground. Within a three year period after being planted the tree-lings were subjected to the ‘85 California fire which torched them. A testimony to the resilience of trees is many of the trees recovered and continue to grow stronger and taller to this day. Before leaving marriage and the property I collected seed pods from those scorched tree survivors. The seeds were from the trees that survived extreme events now on their way to become a separate new life force; a future to flourish.
Months after the “tree-hugging” sermon call sitting in an “Art of Advocacy” BA class enjoying the wonderful instructional presentation I was abruptly jolted from my comfortable entertainment seat charged with an in class immediate assignment. The action task was to quickly research, organize and deliver a short advocacy presentation. The topic selections were in line with social disparities, justice issues, community service needs and world ecology. Fortunately given the ecology/nature topic since I had an appreciation with nature, my topic honed in on a presentation regarding trees. The assignment served to be groundbreaking.
Standing in the forefront of an advocacy class I released a message to be aired –to communicate a sense of tree intrigue in efforts to propagate the notion of trees to be wisped into the hearts of the audience. Making factual points on global tree activism movements, tree facts and even a tree poem I had achieved to seize an opportunity in possibly transmitting an awaking inside of the class audience. I brought to attention a common correlation that at some point to escape heat or stress “solace can be sought under a tree.” The presentation was for me the moment I erupted out of the ground and brought me closest chasing a “tree hugging” claim.
Some people are inspired to win the gold; others are inclined to reach obstacles through mountain climbing while in our world exists those who are called to “hug trees”. I am in awe of how trees stand alone; I am amazed by how trees endure the hardest of conditions without control of which I as a human cannot endure. If only I could naturally do as trees do – give back continually just by being alive. I capture trees in photo images showcasing a testimony, evoking an essence as I serve to be a provocateur of the seed arriving to fruition of something unforeseen possessing potential energy function to play a role in what sustains life and living. I occupy the planet earth in a small independent way, my bold embrace is more subtle and silent – akin to the properties of what a seed has the potential to do. As a teacher I reflect to ignite within others their seed to grow. I am in fascination searching to identify potentials of humans who can continue to play in roles necessary called for in the growing movements embraced with something BIG. The speaker’s call provoked me to recall the real-time image of me in that childhood moment standing in front of my 2 inch diameter tree with blanket, pillow, and books all in place engaged in thinking, “Why out of all the trees in this woods was I fascinated to pick this skinny little birch?” I believed that tree had its very own special potential – I believe as that tree had called me to do so!