As I type tonight, rain is pouring down. I think about the trees dancing in the wind and, in particular, about the willow tree above.
This tree stands alone near the south end of the Central Michigan University campus next to a small pond. I’ve stopped to take pictures in all seasons, sneaking in a few precious moments of quiet during a busy work day. One of these days, I really should hug the tree, and thank it for its continued presence in my life.
Wait. You don’t do that?
I talk with trees, I talk with bees. I talk with plants, I talk with cats. Most of the time, the talk is silent. Alone in the house or in my garden, I’ll talk right out loud to everything. Today though, we’re talking about hugs. And you, my friends, get to hug a tree.
Trees are amazing. Especially willow trees bending delicately in the wind, dancing wildly during storms, and bravely pushing sprouts out early in the spring.
If you’re not up to hugging a tree (Too embarrassed? What would the neighbors think? This is too silly? Tree huggers are weird!) at least touch the tree. Gently place the palm of your hand on the tree trunk. Quiet your mind. Watch your breathing. Silently say thanks to the tree. Stay there for some time, then go on with your day. This alone will calm you, and make your day a little lighter.
The Full-On Hug
Now, for the brave souls out there, let’s hug. And make this a full-on hug of a hug. Stand in front of the tree, calm your mind and watch your breathing. Ask permission; is the tree open to participating in a hug? You can tell which humans are open to hugs – how about trees? Step mindfully to the tree and wrap your arms around. Really nuzzle in close, feel the bark, smell the tree. Close your eyes. Breathe. Stay there until you feel a subtle shift in yourself; I can’t say what that will be, but you’ll know that the day somehow got calmer. Breathe. Say thank you to the tree, and go on with your day.
Going forward, appreciate the trees in your life. Take pictures, and every so often, stop to hug and say thank you.
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