Discover more from Duane Toops
How a tree speaks...
What a life is for
Some say trees have souls. But, does anything? Really? Is there room for such belief? In a world of atoms and particles, systems and processes. In the materiality of cosmic dust and transcendent stars. Perhaps the soul, if there is such a thing, is an emergent property. A fractal pattern of interactions. A complex symmetry. 450 quadrillion kilometers of silken tendrils in unison. A network of searching filaments almost half the size of our galaxy. Something symbiotic. Something hidden underneath, manifesting macroscopically. I can't say for sure, but, I swear, some days, I can hear this tree speak.
Perhaps all trees can. Maybe they always have. Maybe they always are. Millennia after millennia, stolidly whispering the truth of what it’s like to be a part of something larger. What it means to be rooted, resilient, stable, and patient. Teaching us that one of the most important facets of being is simply being still. Maybe this is how a tree speaks. Maybe this is what a life is for.
That something like a life is something like a seed. It comes into the world so small and insignificant. One acorn amongst ten thousand that may never get to grow. And yet, if it can grip the ground and anchor, if it can be nourished through those who have come before, those who are already there, if it can drink water, find some light, and a way to breathe, it becomes a tree. Something like the Kingdom of Heaven. A mutuality. Something cooperative. Something shared. A place of safety and shelter for the birds of the air. Maybe this is how trees speak. Maybe this is what a life is for.
E.E. Cummings says that this is "the deepest secret nobody knows", that "a tree called life...grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide". Not for mere metrics or measurements. Perhaps not even for itself alone. But to provide a canopy of deliverance and awakening in the world. A place of refuge. A home. Maybe this is how a tree speaks. Maybe this is what a life is for.
Trees may not think. They may not have purposes or intent. They may not be emotional, but we are. We are a species of storytellers, after all. We endow the world with feelings and narratives, passion and resolve. Not as a testament to accuracy, but as a show of gratitude and empathy. We can only express the extent of our wonder through fullness of who and what we are. But, if we are made of the same stuff, if we can trace the lineage of what makes us to the same nebular cloud, the same exploding stars, then maybe this is how a tree speaks. Maybe this is what a life is for.