I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Trees of Life

I do not believe in coincidence as being a random convergence of events. I believe in co-incidence, as in a significant, yet unplanned convergence of events. There is no doubt in my mind that this is what happened this week, in my being in San Francisco with my aunt Cuq, while the Do Not Destroy: Trees, Art, and Jewish Thought exhibit was on at the Jewish Museum here.

I am drawn to trees. Always have been. I even have one drawn on me. Permanently.

Most spiritual paths have a connection to trees. In Judeo-Christian traditions, we have the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. Christianity espoused Pagan traditions by bringing trees into the home during the winter months. First Nations peoples have spoken to trees, and honoured their wisdom for longer than anyone knows. Druids, Wiccans, Pagans and all the nature-based paths have special connections to trees, and Buddha gained enlightenment under a tree. Trees are older than we are, and will be here hopefully long after we are gone.

If we are willing, trees can teach us how to reach up to the sky while not letting go of our roots. They teach us how to bear fruit, how to transform the air, and how to give, give give. How to grow a rigid enough core to stand strong, yet remain flexible enough to stand against the weather.

This exhibit was INCREDIBLY inspiring. Among the pieces on show was a screen, high up on the wall, showing a video of the top of a tree - the same tree that Anne Frank took comfort in from her hiding place in the attic. Teh description of the work includes this quote: "From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be." Being there, looking up at the same tree was more moving than I can describe.

But the most incredible piece by far, was blackfield. You can see photos of it on Zadok Ben David's website: http://www.zadokbendavid.com/#http://www.zadokbendavid.com/expose/gallery.php?pieceID=11

You walk in, and down on the floor the there is a circular field of exquisitely carved tiny black steel leaves, flowers, trees, all planted in sand. And you get this feeling of desolation, destruction, or winter. At first I thought it was a statement on the destruction of natural habitats, and it may well be, in part. But as you walk around it, you start to see hints of colour, more with each step, until you get to the opposite end, and the whole thing is a brilliant field of exuberance and life. And the most amazing thing is that the closer you get to the ground, the better it gets - more vivid and rich and textured, until it is all there is.

My aunt and I lay down on the floor, and I have no idea how long we lay there. Eduardo lay down with us, my Mom lay down with us, and my dad even crouched down to see. It was so cool to watch people's expressions as they walked around and discovered the colour... And the whole thing was such an incredible metaphor for what we go through in our lives - the cycles of darkness and brightness, of rigidity and fluidity, of black/white and full colour.

In the end, I saw it, and continue to see in it, an evocative, poignant representation of my journey, and yours too. We all carry our crosses (also made from trees, of course) and go through darkest nights. We all bear scars, be they emotional or physical, and we all have the potential to grow with them, to learn from them, and to continue walking to the other side, where the light and colour awaits us patiently, to join in the celebration that is life.

But most of all, I see in it a brilliant reminder; you who know what it is to be in the field of black trees, to not know that there is colour on the other side. But there is. You just have to have the strength, the determination, or the pure dumb luck, to get to the other side.


  1. My eyes fill with tears when I think of how I felt when I first saw this jewel on the floor of the museum. My heart fills with joy for having had the opportunity to lay on the floor with you.My spirit is lifted in the thoughts of hope I have every time I picture it in my mind's eye.
    I LOVE YOU!!!!!