The Green This Time

05-27-2016 | Lindsay

I am staring out the window at another day of clouded skies and fitful rain, the twelfth in a row. In the last days of April, we made a fire in the woodstove at the Meditation Shelter to warm us as we told stories, danced, and drummed together during a women’s retreat. It’s almost two weeks on from then, and I am still throwing on a jacket to walk in the gray mist.

Yet the forest glistens and glows; and when the sun shines, even for a fleeting afternoon, the trees are radiant. I had imagined that Mary Oliver’s poem, "When I Am Among the Trees" was written in autumn; but I see I was wrong:

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It’s simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into this world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

Perhaps the light flows from their branches because their leaves have only just arrived, born through the hardened buds of winter, coursing with hormones and enzymes, trembling and eager to breathe. The leaves are almost translucent, bright green and pale, shimmering. The green this time is chartreuse.

Now it is raining again in earnest, drip, drip, dripping from the leafy lacework canopy. This morning, though, it was more reticent, and the air was clear in the twilight as I headed down Wedding Walk. Birdsong trilled and twittered above me. I too am often distant from my truest and more centered self, rushing headlong into projects and heartwork, pacing determinedly over the forest paths where torrents of rainwater have arranged the brown leaves in mounds and swirls.

I hurry on through the world. Luckily there are moments of grace. I reached Hunters Field and walked along the north edge for several yards before turning into the trees again on an indistinct trail that meanders vaguely toward the Meditation Shelter. I turned toward the Memorial Grove, passing the large poplars and oaks that cluster along the path and spread into a circle around the stones placed for remembrance in that gentle and holy clearing. I had a thought that all those there: the trees, the dead, the birds, spiders, mushrooms, squirrels and field mice, were intertwined, inhabiting this place and looking out for it, and in a sense, for one another, and for me. All around, the forest rustled and sang, "You too have come into this world to do this, to go shine."