There is something scary about God when you’ve been to the places that I have been. Although I am beginning to believe that once you really know God for what God is it is impossible to be scared of anything.  But anyway, for a long time I was scared. I thought maybe if I stayed away from all things spiritual as much as possible I would be safe and not have to go to those places that brought so much devastation into my life before.

At one time in my life, I went so far into the spiritual it turned into the dark instead of the light. I was hoping for angels and healing and I got psych ward instead. Not once, but four times. In two years. I lost my children. I lost my tether. I lost everything.  Slowly, slowly, I built my life back again. I was sad and heavy and quite a bit lost. I was very afraid for a long time. I couldn’t understand what had happened to me and I was doing everything I knew how to do to try to keep it from happening again. Which meant I stayed away from everything that had to do with spirituality and my own internal passion for a connection with God.

And then I started thinking about my friend, the tree. And I started connecting my spirituality to that. What could be scary about a tree? It’s tall and silent.  It’s solid and strong. It stands there asking for nothing but what comes to it and yet it manages to get everything it needs from the soil and the sky. Best of all, it has roots. Deep, winding, ferreting roots. They go right into the earth. Right down there in the dark and they touch everything. Everything that lives on the earth is connected to those roots. The tree doesn’t move from its place but it can sense all other trees and all life through the foundation that runs beneath us.  The tree is one with all life on earth. And it knows it.

Did I mention my other favorite thing about the tree? It has branches! They reach toward the sky! They touch heaven and live for the sun and the wind and the rain.  Sometimes the branches are alive with green leaves.  Abundant leaves. Or fruit or flowers or pinecones.  The branches are always there, reaching and swaying and just being open to what lives above us.

My friend the tree saved my life. It brought me back to God in its own gentle way. When I would be aching for spiritual connection I’d think of the tree. I’d imagine my own roots, my own branches. Why the very veins that course through my body are so incredibly root-like! And my muscles and my bones and all of me really, solid and rooted as a tree.  And I too am connected to all that is earth and sky. I can stand rooted and swaying gently with the wind and all I need will come to me. I can go into the quiet darkness of what holds me and feel one with all that walks above and below.

Touching the tree with my heart opened me to prayer. I would go for a daily walk and stop and pray at my special tree in the park. I’d send my thanks and my wishes up through its branches, knowing it would be safe there in the place where earth touches sky. I knew I would be safe, too. I trusted the tree to keep me grounded. I still remembered the time in my life when I became so very ungrounded, and I didn’t trust myself to pray or meditate without a tree to ground me because I thought maybe I’d disappear into that place again.

Through beginning to explore prayer with the tree as my anchor I began to touch that place in me again that loves to feel my face touch the sky. That place in me that longs, longs, longs for God.  Even when I kept myself small and afraid I felt that longing. I didn’t dare to touch it, though. But I felt it in my heartbeat. Now the longing is less and the belonging is more. The tree has taught me. Once I began with the tree I started feeling safer and I let my branches unfurl. But first I had to start with my roots. Because those are what I lost when I lost everything. My roots literally went flying around in the sky. I couldn’t hold onto anything.  I was holding onto the world by the thinnest thread. Thankfully, I was able to come back.

And I came back as a tree. Now I know about my roots. I know how vital they are to keeping a place in this world.  And I know now that I have a place just for me. A place where my roots are free to go deep, deep into the earth and sustain me. They are strong and winding and beautiful. And they let me focus on my branches. With my roots anchored in the soil I am able to stretch as far as I want into the sky. I can show the world my leaves and my blossoms and my fruit. I can feel the sun and be nourished by the rain. The wind doesn’t bother me. I let it brush through me like a caress.

My branches are becoming just as winding and beautiful as my roots. They let me stand open to what is all around me. They let all that wants to come to me find its way to me on the breeze. I am connected to everything. Including God. Including my own spirituality. I am not afraid of it anymore. I learned to trust again. Once I learned to be rooted the trust slowly unfurled all the way into the tips of my branches. Leaves started growing there. God speaks to me gently now.

My spirituality, which once almost took me completely out of the very ground I am born from has now found roots and the very experiences that devastated me have transformed my life. My connection with my spirit has grown strong again. I know where I am meant to stand, even if I don’t know what will find me here. I would never have gotten to this place that I call my own without first having been nearly ripped from it. And oh, how precious it is to me now that I know what it is like to almost lose it. I found my way back to my patch of soil and let myself grow in equal measures toward the earth and the sun, like all trees do.  And yes, it is beautiful here.  Just me and all those other trees. And believe me, I plan to stay.