The Power of Trees

When we first went into lockdown in the spring of 2020, the blossom tree over the wall at the bottom of my garden was coming into bloom. My newly set up living room ‘office’ (a fold out table with a laptop on it) allowed me to look up over the computer screen throughout the day at this magnificent tree bursting into bright pink life.

I spent a lot of time looking at that tree. I found it reassuring somehow. Calming and constant in a frightening and ever-changing world.

The tree is always there, all year round, and I appreciate that, but I have been waiting eagerly for the return of its blossoms. I don’t understand exactly why that is but for me I know it’s about more than just its beauty and the heralding of spring.

Julia Fehrenbacher, in her wonderful poem “The cure for it all”, talks of the trees as being brave and kind, imploring us to model our lives after theirs. Never is this more important than as a therapist walking alongside a client. There is nothing that you can say to a tree that they cannot handle. You can never be too much for a tree. Presence, strength, adaptability, resilience, patience, even the importance of connection, are all teachings of the tree.

Gift enough to be amongst the trees but the power of walking with a client through woodland does not end there. What could be more ‘here and now’ and replete with metaphors than an unexpected rain storm, finding a broken and unpassable bridge, having to re-route only to find yourself walking around in circles before getting stung by a wasp!?

How powerful too for a client to move amongst a copse of trees, choosing representations for parts of self, significant others, or life choices, and feeling themselves being drawn towards or away from certain trees, aligned or discomfited by others.

The fragile, fleeting blossoms at the bottom of my garden are back and they’re beautiful but I am uneasy as I ask myself what it is that I have really been waiting for.  I’m not even sure what to write next as I ponder the question looking over at the tree as it responds to me with a patient but expectant “Well?”

The words of the poet Mary Oliver come to me: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I think it has actually got something to do with NOT waiting for life to start. I don’t have all the answers but I’m glad I have the trees to help me live the questions.

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