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  • Writer's pictureJH

Ask a tree

August 14, 2018

For the record, marijuana is not yet legal in Canada. Trust me when I say that what follows is a true story, unclouded by any sort of chemical or plant medicine.

Sort of.

Anyway, it’s weird, but stay with me.

If you’ve been reading along, you know I’m searching these days. I’m dealing with some shadows, trying to figure out what I want, working on my thinking about possibilities and the future. I’m still looking for the way forward, which is exciting and daunting and, at times, difficult. Sometimes you just want someone – or something – to give you the clue. I’m no different, so one day last week I went in search of answers from an unlikely source.

I asked a tree.

Yes, a tree.

I’m not crazy. There’s a precedent for this. I borrowed the idea from spiritual teacher and filmmaker Geoff Thompson, who borrowed it from ancient traditions that value the wisdom of nature. Geoff himself walks in nature all the time, intuiting deep lessons about growth, reciprocity, spirituality, and what he calls the divine economy. If it works for him, why not me?

Geoff is partial to oak trees, but I don’t have one in my yard. What I do have is a few wise old maple trees, one of which has leaves that turn a brilliant golden yellow in the fall. It also lost a major limb during an ice storm a few years ago, which is why I chose it for my quest. I wanted a mentor who knows beauty and pain. A mentor who has suffered and continues to shine.

It didn’t let me down.

In fact, I didn’t even have to ask a question. As I walked up to the tree and put my hand on the trunk, I saw, right before my bewildered eyes, a bit of wisdom so profound and synchronistic that I can hardly believe it.

Right there in front of me, resting on the tree, was a caterpillar as brilliantly yellow as the maple tree’s fall leaves. It was motionless, sitting there as if waiting for me. And maybe it was.

No, the caterpillar didn’t speak. Not with a voice, at least. Its existence said everything I needed to know, and I almost laughed when I saw it.

What did I learn from the caterpillar?

To stop worrying. To have faith in the process. Here I am, anxious about the future, trying to figure out what I want, doubting my dreams, winding myself up in knots of defeat and fear. What a human thing to do. Does the caterpillar worry? No. Why would it? It knows its destiny. It’s going to become a beautiful butterfly. How? By going through a powerful and natural process of change. When? When the time is right.

It’s so simple.

All the caterpillar has to do is work, grow, prepare, and trust that things will happen exactly when they’re supposed to happen.

How instructive is that?

The tree and its tiny messenger told me to have faith (there’s that word again). It told me to keep working. Keep growing. Keep preparing myself. It told me to lose my ego and focus on preparation, and that when I’m ready – when the timing is perfect – the breakthrough will come.

Maybe that’s a lesson for you, too. If the caterpillar goes into its chrysalis too early or too late, it probably won't survive. It does everything perfectly based on intuition and instinct and trust. No questions, no anxiety.

So if things don’t seem to be coming together for you, remember my little caterpillar. Do the work. Trust the timing. When you’re ready – when I’m ready – it will be time to fly.

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