Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Those Damn Trees

For my evening meditation tonight, I sat on the balcony that adjoins the bedroom of our apartment, on the third of three floors of this row house in Baltimore, Maryland.  A golden shade highlighted all the contours of the trees to the east, with the unusual shade of light casting a contrast between the trees and the landscape closer to the ground, where the setting sun's light could not reach.

I've been too focused lately on the coming election here in the United States, with two peoples' divergent viewpoints and ideologies ravaging a stage that Americans are taught in school is sacred to our democratic principles.  With 48 days to go until this latest "most important election in our lifetime", I was left with the realization that the trees with which I was sharing this evening's sacred space of meditation didn't care about the election.  They didn't care about the ideological conflict that I often believe could divide the United States in unhealthy ways.  They sat there.  Unyielding.  Swayed only by the winds.

How can they not care?  Isn't the election the most important thing ever?

No.  They don't care.  Most of those trees will outlive the two major-party candidates for President.  Most of those trees will outlive the third-party Presidential candidates too.  All the trees with which I shared space tonight survived the heavy construction and paving of this Charles Village neighborhood in Baltimore over a century ago.  They weren't swayed when Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932, when the American Middle Class was midwifed.  They weren't swayed when World War II started, or ended.  They weren't swayed when the end of the social contract for fair treatment ended with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.  They weren't swayed when the U.S. elected its first nonwhite President, Barack Obama, 8 years ago.  And they won't be swayed by this election.

These trees are part of an ecology that will heal, at some point, in some way.  Maybe humanity will survive its attempt at self-destruction through ecological rape.  Maybe we won't.  But those trees, and their cousins, and their offspring, will live on.

I cannot fix the toxic politics here.  Nor can I reach out and fix the bad days some of my ministerial colleagues had this past week.  Nor can I solve intractable life problems experienced by close friends.  But I can realize that I am part of a larger whole.  One that extends beyond the fertile and often harsh playground of human life.

I am born from the trees.  I am a product of playtime underneath the massive Oak tree on the front lawn of my mother's home in Michigan, its massive reach covering my imaginary Starship Bridge during "Star Trek" playtime when I was a boy.  I am a product of love, cultivated on walks underneath so many trees in so many places.  I am the product of awe, as I have witnessed the flowering of the tree in front of our Baltimore row house every spring since we arrived.  Those trees that wave frigidly in the winter, their bare arms demonstrating life and unending desire to grow upward.  Those trees that captured the attention of so many authors.  Those trees that rustle when the summer breeze bring relief to a sweltering day.

I am not the capable one to fix the world, for the world is beyond me.  But I will cue from the trees that shared in my meditation tonight, and rest aware that there is always tomorrow.

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